WASHINGTON (July 14, 2010)—National Geographic Entertainment (NGE) has acquired the film “Desert Flower” for U.S. distribution. The film is the latest in a string of acquisitions for NGE in the last year, including “Restrepo,” “The Wildest Dream,” “Amreeka” and “Blue Man Group: Mind Blast.” Due for release in the United States in early 2011, “Desert Flower” will be distributed by National Geographic Cinema Ventures (NGCV). International film sales are handled by The Match Factory.
“Desert Flower” follows the true Cinderella-like journey of Waris Dirie, who escaped Somalia at the age of 13 and spent her adolescence as a maid in her country’s London embassy. A regime change forces her onto the streets of London, but she is discovered by a famous fashion photographer, and this scared, homeless runaway evolves into a glamorous runway superstar. Her beauty and courage open doors to an exciting career, but her life is even more transformed by her tenacity to fight against the poverty and cultural traditions that earlier had forced her to run away from her home and family. Her work resulted in her being named United Nations special ambassador for women’s rights in Africa in 1997.
Dirie is portrayed by model and actress Liya Kebede, who has graced the covers of Vogue, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar and V magazines and whose past film credits include “Lord of War” and “The Good Shepherd.” Golden Globe-winner Sally Hawkins (“Happy-Go-Lucky”), Timothy Spall (“Harry Potter” and “Secrets and Lies”), Juliet Stevenson (“Bend It Like Beckham”), Craig Parkinson (“Control”), Anthony Mackie (“8 Mile”) and Meera Syal (“Scoop”) fill out the ensemble cast. The film was a 2009 Venice Film Festival selection.
The film was written and directed by Germany’s Sherry Hormann and is based on Dirie’s autobiography “Desert Flower: The Extraordinary Journey of a Desert Nomad,” an international best seller with more than 11 million copies sold. Peter Hermann produced, with Benjamin Hermann and Danny Krausz serving as co-producers. The cinematographer is Ken Kelsch, and the editor is Clara Fabry. International film sales have been handled by Match Factory.
“We are very excited to release ‘Desert Flower,'” said Lisa Truitt, president of NGCV. “We want to present compelling stories about the world in which we live, and the saga of this beautiful woman, Waris Dirie, and her amazing ability to triumph over adversity is an inspiration for audiences everywhere.”
About National Geographic Entertainment
National Geographic Entertainment (NGE) combines into a single operating group National Geographic Films (NGF), National Geographic Cinema Ventures (NGCV), Kids Entertainment and Music & Radio. In 2005 NGF co-presented the Academy Award-winning “March of the Penguins.” National Geographic World Films co-presented both the 2004 Oscar-nominated film “The Story of the Weeping Camel,” which received the Director’s Guild Award for best documentary and was nominated for an Academy Award, and Lu Chuan’s “Mountain Patrol: Kekexili.” NGCV released the 3-D concert film “U2 3D” to critical acclaim, and NGCV set giant-screen box office records with “Mysteries of Egypt” and “Sea Monsters: A Prehistoric Adventure.” In 2009 NGE released “Amreeka,” which was nominated for a Best Picture Gotham Independent Film Award and the Independent Spirit Award; in 2010 NGE released the critically praised “Restrepo,” which won the Sundance Film Festival U.S. Documentary Award. Daniel Battsek is president of NGF, Lisa Truitt is president of NGCV, and Mark Katz is president of NGCV Distribution.
NGE is part of National Geographic Global Media, bringing together all of National Geographic’s editorial platforms to streamline collaboration and support the Society’s mission. Founded in 1888 to “increase and diffuse geographic knowledge,” National Geographic works to inspire people to care about the planet. It reaches more than 375 million people worldwide each month through magazines, books, digital media, television, radio, music, film and live events. It funds over 250 scientific research, exploration and conservation projects each year and supports an education program promoting geography literacy. For more information, visit www.nationalgeographic.com.