IDFA - Mogadishu Soldier with Extended Q&A

For a year, two soldiers filmed the danger, banality, humanity and inhumanity of their peacekeeping mission in the Somali capital of Mogadishu.

Since 2006, the radical Islamists of Al-Shabaab have been fighting to overthrow the Somali government. Under the UN flag, the African Union is now engaged in a peacekeeping mission (AMISOM), with soldiers from Burundi and Uganda. These troops are fighting Al-Shabaab in the center of Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital city, with a population of two million.

Documentary filmmaker Torstein Grude gave two African Union soldiers a camera with instructions to film whatever they felt was important. For an entire year, they documented diverse aspects of warfare, from firefights in trenches and life on the base to the dead and wounded lying in the streets. They also filmed conversations with local people hoping for food and water, soldiers fantasizing about women, and the arrival of an embedded journalist.

War is shown to be banal and chaotic, with periods of boredom, and instances of both compassion and gross inhumanity. Taken from no fewer than 523 tapes, this compilation gives an honest and sometimes revealing glimpse behind the scenes of war.

Editor Niels Pagh Anderson and film critic Nicolas Rapold discuss the editing of Mogadishu Soldier, which was created from hundreds of hours of raw footage.