American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
Brainstorm Media presents a documentary by Thymaya Payne. Running time 90 minutes. No MPAA Rating (Language).
Thymaya Payne's "Stolen Seas" is a documentary of such ambitious scope that you might need a remote control and a notebook to keep up with it. The film chronicles the hijacking of the CEC Future, a Danish ship traveling just off the coast of Somalia, on its way to Indonesia. As the film takes us through the intense ransom negotiations, it also gives us a complex history of Somalia. The footage, reenactments, and interviews are so dramatic that I sometimes wondered if I was watching a faux documentary. The editing and soundtrack recall recent action films, but this is the real thing.
In November 2008, eleven pirates armed with Kalashnikovs board the vessel and quickly take control. We learn almost nothing about the hijackers or their leader, Omar. Instead, the calm, mysterious Ishmael Ali negotiates in fluent English with the Clipper Group, who own the craft. He demands $7 million.
Ali is a single father who raises camels back home in Somaliland, one of the states that make up the greater nation. For 20 years he lived in the United States but left because of the stress. Now, he tells his story while reclining on pillows under the cool breeze of a fan. The only thing that seems to get under his skin is any suggestion of racism. He claims he became involved with pirates by simply looking for a job. We do not discover until the film's end if he is a hustler or a naïve participant in a serious conflict.