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Desert Flower – The Movie

Brief Summary of Contents

From the Somali desert to the world’s catwalks. When Waris Dirie’s DESERT FLOWER appeared in 1998, the world was shocked. The former supermodel tells her breathtaking life story, describing her incredible journey from a nomadic life in the deserts of Somalia to the world’s most famous catwalks. This was a dream and a nightmare at the same time. In New York, at the peak of her career, she tells in an interview of the practice of female genital mutilation that she had to suffer when she was five. Waris Dirie decides to end her life as a model and dedicate her life to fighting this archaic ritual.

For more information, please refer to the official movie website.

Sherry Hormann (Director)

Hormann, a German-American born in Kingston, New York, won the Bavarian Film Award and the Silver Max Ophüls Award for her directing debut SILENT SHADOW (1991) – to which she also wrote the script. The HFF graduate started her career as a set designer in Dominik Graf’s early works TIGER, LÖWE, PANTHER (1987), to which she also wrote the script, and SPIELER (1989). Graf “rewarded” her with a role in Hormann’s hit FATHER’S DAY (1996). The relationship comedy pulled in more than 1.5 million viewers. Before that, Hormann has already made a name for herself as a comedy specialist with FRAUEN SIND WAS WUNDERBARES (1994, to which she also wrote the script) and WIDOWS (1997). In the field of television Hormann directed programmes such as “Bella Block”, “Meine Tochter ist keine Mörderin” (2001), three episodes of “Der Kriminalist” (2006) and the Bavarian Television Award-wining two-part miniseries “Helen, Fred und Ted” (2006), a comedy about therapists with Friedrich Thun, Andrea Sawatzki and Christian Berkel. She caused a furore at the cinema with her last work as a director, GUYS AND BALLS (2004) – where she combined the subject of homosexuality with football. Sherry Hormann also wrote the script for DESERT FLOWER, based on Waris Dirie’s eponymous bestseller.

Peter Herrmann (producer)

After studying ethnology in Munich, Peter Herrmann has worked in the most varied of positions in the film industry since 1984 and has also directed documentaries. He co-founded MTM in 1994, and has been CEO of MTM west television & film GmbH in Cologne since 1999; he then took it over as a shareholder in 2004. As managing partner, Herrmann founded Desert Flower Filmproductions GmbH in 2005 as a special purpose company for adapting the novel “Desert Flower”.
His biggest success as a producer to date was the Oscar-winning film NOWHERE IN AFRICA (2001). The film also won the 2002 German Film Award in five categories, the Bavarian Film Award and several other awards. Previously, Herrmann had also produced Roland Suso Richter’s A HANDFUL OF GRASS (2000), which won the “Cannes Junior 2001” in the children’s film section in Cannes. His films as executive producer include Jan Schütte’s FAT WORLD (1997) and Romuald Karmakar’s DEATHMAKER (1995). His TV productions include Roland Suso Richter’s “The Bubi Scholz Story” (1997) and several episodes of “Tatort” and “Polizeiruf 110”.

Liya Kebede (Waris)

Having gained wide success in the world of fashion and modeling, Liya Kebede has transitioned successfully into the world of acting, with the starring role in the independent film, Desert Flower. An adaptation of Waris Dirie’s bestselling autobiography, the story recounts Dirie’s rise from childhood in the Somali desert to the catwalks of the international fashion business.

In 2004, Kebede captured Hollywood’s attention and has since appeared in films including The Good Shepherd with Matt Damon and Angelina Jolie, directed by Robert De Niro, and Andrew Niccols’ Lord of War with Nicolas Cage and Bridget Moynahan. A native of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Kebede has graced the covers of dozens of magazines including Vogue (American, Italian, Japanese & Spanish), V, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar and Time’s Style & Design issue.

In 2003 Liya became the first woman of color to represent the Estée Lauder brand. Off screen, Kebede is a U.N. Goodwill Ambassador with the World Health Organization, working to raise awareness of the difficulties women and children face in the developing world. In her efforts to make a difference, she founded The Liya Kebede Foundation which aims to improve the health and well-being of mothers and children around the world.

In July 2007, Kebede launched Lemlem, a children’s clothing line hand woven in Ethiopia and sold online as well as in select boutiques in New York, Los Angeles, and Europe. She is currently working on the second collection. Lemlem, which means “to bloom” or “to flourish” in Amharic, embodies African traditions and culture with the hopes to positively impact its economy. Liya resides in New York with her husband, Kassy and their children, Suhul & Raee.

Sally Hawkins (Marilyn)

Sally Hawkins was born in London in 1976. After graduating from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London in 1998, she worked predominantly as a stage actress for several years. In 2004, she appeared in “Layer Cake” as well as “Vera Drake”, and in 2007 she played with Ewan McGregor and Colin Farrell in Woody Allen’s production “Cassandra’s Dream”.

For her role in the 2008 Mike Leigh movie “Happy-Go-Lucky” she received the Silver Berlin Bear and a Golden Globe.

In the movie “Desert Flower”, Sally Hawkins plays Waris’ friend Marilyn.


Waris – Liya Kebede
Marylin – Sally Hawkins
Neil – Craig Parkinson
Pushpa Patel – Meera Syal
Waris (12) – Soraya Mohamed Ali Scego
Harold – Anthony Mackie
Terry Donaldson – Timothy Spall
Lucinda – Juliet Stevenson

Director – Sherry Hormann
Producer – Peter Herrmann (Desert Flower Filmproductions)
Co-producer / Line Producer – Gerhard Hegele
Co-producers – Danny Krausz (Dor Film, Austria)
Benjamin Herrmann (Majestic Filmproduktion)
Barbara Seiller (BSI International Invest)
Til Schweiger (Mr. Brown Entertainment)
Peter Herrmann (MTM West)
Hans-Wolfgang Jurgan (ARD/Degeto)
Hubert von Spreti / Bettina Reitz (BR)
Roch Lener (Bac Films, France)
Martin Bruce-Clayton
David P. Kelly
Waris Dirie
In cooperation with Backup Films (France)
Script – Sherry Hormann
Camera – Ken Kelsch
Sound – Walter Fiklocki
Film editor – Clara Fabry
Production design – Jamie Leonard
Costume design – Gabriele Binder
Make-up artists – Michele Thevenet, Jenny Retzlaff
Casting – John & Ros Hubbard

The production was financed by Filmstiftung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg, Filmförderungsanstalt, FilmFernsehFonds Bayern, Deutscher Filmförderfonds, Eurimages, the NRW.BANK, the Austrian Film Institute, ORF and FilmFonds Wien.


Press note

The adaptation of the international worldwide bestseller DESERT FLOWER (over 11 million copies sold worldwide) brings the gripping life story of an extraordinarily strong woman onto the movie screens.

Director and scriptwriter Sherry Hormann (“Father’s Day”, “Silent Shadow”, “Guys and Balls”) and producer Peter Herrmann (Oscar for “Nowhere in Africa“) were able to get an international cast for the film. The New York top model Liya Kebede was chosen to star – she has already played supporting roles in Robert De Niro’s “The Good Shepherd” and Andrew Niccol’s “Lord of War”.

She is supported by a host of top British actors, including the winner of this year’s Silver Bear at the Berlin Film Festival, Sally Hawkins (“Cassandra’s Dream”, “Happy-Go-Lucky”), Craig Parkinson (“Control”), Juliet Stevenson (“Mona Lisa Smile”, “Bend it like Beckham”), Timothy Spall (“Harry Potter”, “Enchanted”, “Vanilla Sky”) and the comedienne and actress Meera Syal (“Scoop”).