Asad: A Short FIlm

Rating Unrated
Genre: Drama, Action & Adventure
Directed By:   Bryan Buckley, Brian Buckley
Written By:    Bryan Buckley
Runtime: 18 min.
Hungry Man Productions

“Asad is a lyrical, moving and beautifully realized portrayal of a world we rarely get to see in cinema. Every shot of the film is well thought out and specific to this unique world - a fishing village in Somalia. Yet Asad’s most astounding achievement is boasting an array of brilliant performances by a cast of Somali refugees. Congratulations to writer/director Bryan Buckley and his amazing cast on making a short film that is rather large in spirit, ambition and accomplishment.”

~TriBeCa Film Festival Jury


Najah Abdi Abdullahi Hussein Abdi Mohamed Maymum Abdi Mohamed
Bryan Buckley
Bryan Buckley

Pop the Champagne!

Congratulations to Bryan Buckley for ASAD’s Oscar Nomination

2012: A Record 11 Live Action Shorts to Compete for an Oscar.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has released its shortlist of films that will advance in the category of live-action short. Because of a tie in the balloting, 11 films, instead of just ten, will move forward



Some fanfare from across the pond for  Bryan Buckley’s ASAD with the lovely folks from the UK publication DAVID REVIEWS .

Hungryman director Bryan Buckley has achieved huge success at festivals around the world with his short film Asad.

The film – which was also written by Buckley – takes place in a war-torn fishing village in Somalia where a boy must decide between life as a pirate or as an honest fisherman.

Buckley’s decision to make this movie with an all-Somali refugee cast was inspired by his experiences shooting ‘No Autographs’ during the summer of 2010. Buckley, along with producer Mino Jarjoura, travelled with the United Nations to Kenya and Sudan and while filming in the Kakuma Refugee Camp, he interviewed many Somali refugees and was both fascinated by their spirit and moved by their struggles.

A year later, Buckley wrote and directed ASAD.

After premièring at the Tribeca Film Festival in April of this year, Asad won the prize for ‘Best Narrative Short’ and became eligible for an Academy Award nomination.

While in Sudan, Buckley met an American businessman who strongly influenced his views of the potential for the West to provide a positive role in Africa. Using a very simple premise, that cleanliness would change lives, Buckely observed how the availability of simple cleaning products available everywhere in the US were completely missing in most communities. By offering trash management tools as simple as trash bags & liners the refugee's communities were vastly improved and the spread of common infections greatly reduced. Common custodial products like detergents and garbage cans enabled refugees to take control of mounting waste in their camps immeasurably improving the lives of the inhabitants. Intelligent trash management and waste disposal is essential for a healthy community.

Asad then travelled west to the LA Film Festival and won the Audience Award for Best Short before being named by Indiewire as one of ‘The Five Hottest Short Films of the Summer’.

The film screened at the Rhode Island International Film Festival (RIIFF) where it was awarded the Grand Prize for Best Short and became RIIFF’s official representative to the Academy in hopes of a nomination.

The film was further honoured when Michael Moore personally selected Asad for the Traverse City Film Festival where it won the Special Jury Prize.

The film festival circuit is far from over for ASAD… it will appear around the world over the next nine months and – in the next few months – there’s the possibility that it will be garlanded with an Oscar.

Go Bryan.


Rotten Tomatoes Reviews

A young man is torn between right and wrong as he tries to make a future for himself in this short drama. Asad (Harun Mohammed) is a thirteen-year-old boy growing up in the poverty and chaos of Somalia. While his homeland has been torn asunder by war, Asad dreams of living a peaceful life and earning a living as a fisherman. However, many of those around Asad have chosen to live outside the law, and are pressuring him to throw in his lot with the pirates who prey on those from other lands. Asad was shot in South Africa, using a cast drawn entirely from Somali refugees who had never acted before; director Bryan Buckley and producer Mino Jaroura were inspired to make the film after interviewing a number of Somali exiles while making the documentary short No Autographs. Asad was honored at several major film festivals, and was nominated for a 2013 Academy Award as Best Live Action Short Subject. 

** Nick Martucci

Set in Somalia and starring Somalian refugees, yet doesn't feel quite as sentimental as you'd expect. It feels a bit disconnected from it subject and isn't so much a complete story as much as a series of small events. Certainly the weakest of the 2013 Oscar nominated live action shorts. Harun Mohammed is good as the titular Asad, and you want to root for his strong will, but the film doesn't really give you too much to root for. Ultimately, it just drags for the short run time and doesn't really leave you feeling much of anything.

*** Michael Wilson

Looks great, but falls short. This could have been a much better film with some more direction, but it is solid enough to deserve an Oscar nod.

** 1/2 First Last

The story behind this Oscar-nominated live-action short is more interesting than the film.

A Somali boy is torn between the pull of piracy and the mundane subsistence of fishing.

The production values of Asad are strong and the characters interesting-maintaining an upbeat attitude and hint of humor even with the constant threats to survival. However, the story line lacks drive, and the funny but dissonant end offers no answer to the premise of this live action short.

Most of the actors in Asad are Somalian refugees director Bryan Buckley (known for his Super Bowl ads) met in a Kenyan refugee camp after they were forced from their country. The leads, 12- and 14-year-old brothers Ali and Harun Mohammed, were illiterate; and Buckley is now paying for their schooling in Cape Town, South Africa, where the film was shot.

He is also working with the governments of South Africa and the United States, trying to get the boys the necessary visas (complicated by their refugee status), so they can attend the Academy Awards ceremony.

Asad may not be award worthy, but it seems that there should be a special gold statue-or perhaps a halo-somewhere for Bryan Buckley.


Reviews from Letterboxd

Review by Nathan White ***

**Oscar Nominated Live Action Shorts 1/5**

Even though Asad had what seemed to be a great story, and with a funny ending that give short films their charm, however I was left a little disappointed.

The concept was there, but the execution of the story was very rushed, which resulted in the story being very flat, with no build up, conflict, or resolution.

Review by Lise ***

2013 Oscar nominated Live Action Short

If Asad is seen as a fable of sorts, the film is absolutely lovely. But if viewed as a narrative short, the ending is a little off, only in the sense that it leaves some loose ends that make you wonder why some of the other characters were introduced in the first place. But to hell with it, it is still worth a watch and it is guaranteed to make you smile.

Review by dogunderwater ****

Probably the most charming of the Oscar-nominated shorts. The story, set in Somalia, is sharp, funny, and surprising.

Review by Brett Blumenkopf ***

Strange short film that is almost entirely a bleak drama until it turns into a one-note joke that inspires little more than a shrug.

Review by Jared Mobarak *** 1/2

Young Asad (Harun Mohammed) is an energetic boy with an insane knowledge of the ocean and tides that make him a perfect candidate to become a fisherman like his teacher, old Erasto (Ibrahim Moallim Hussein). Saddled with a streak of bad luck preventing him from catching anything substantial, however, his time spent on the beach drifts from fishing onto his idol Laban (Adiwale Mohamed) and the other men readying to go off with bad attitudes and guns to rob Europeans on the open sea. In a war-torn country like Somalia, many children grow up into the violence and horror because they have no other choice. Only the lucky few like Asad with a guardian angel of sorts can hope to stay on a righteous path.

Writer/director Bryan Buckley of Hungry Man Productions is a prolific commercial director with over forty Super Bowl ads, thirty-seven Cannes Lions, five Emmy nominations, and a 2010 Adweek Readers’ poll Commercial Director of the decade victory. With all these accolades in a career that began back in 1994, it’s amazing he’s only just now earning his first Oscar nomination for the short film Asad. More than a modern fable rooted in a dangerous world devoid of rules, this work is a collaboration by those who wish to see their country reborn as an inhabitable society. Every actor involved—save a British woman at the end—is a Somali refugee who still holds onto the hope better days may be coming.

A wonderful parable on humanity’s strength and will to survive, we watch Asad prove himself to be more of a man than any of those quick to pick up a gun and terrorize unsuspecting innocents. When a band of Mogadishu soldiers comes to threaten his friend Ali (Ali Mohammed), only Asad is there to stick up for him. When Erasto is beaten and cut by the same amoral rebels, only Asad is willing to help. The winds of legend say the boy will one day capture the greatest catch his hometown has ever seen, but they’re merely words without the love of his mother and tutelage of Erasto to stir him true. We all make choices holding either salvation or destruction and through Asad we learn the power of singular courage against insurmountable corruption.

Review by chrisailor ** 1/2

Worthwhile for the manner in which was made (the cast is made up almost entirely of real-life Somali refugees), but it's ultimately pretty slight. It's tonal shifts are promising, but not executed all that well.

Review by Nathan White ***

**Oscar Nominated Live Action Shorts 1/5**

Even though Asad had what seemed to be a great story, and with a funny ending that give short films their charm, however I was left a little disappointed.