“A deeply felt humanist tale.” -Gerald Perry, Boston Phoenix
Directed by Anne Makepeace
The title is a rough translation of one of the Somali Bantu’s frequent expresions: ‘bish bish.’ Literally meaning ‘splash splash,’ the term refers to the return of rain after a long drought, the transformation of a desiccated land into a world bursting with new life. Despite all their hardships, they often referred to America as ‘bish bish,’ paradise, resurrection.
Rain In A Dry Land is a film about culture shock, a leap from the ninteenth to the twent-first century as two devout Muslim families find new homes in urban America. We meet these families, in their ‘cultural orientation class’ in a refugee cam in Kenya, where they are preparing for their new lives. In the classroom they discover ice, a refrigerator, a bathtub, and learn about elevators and stairs, and buildings taller than one story.
As their awe and excitement grow, we fear for them. How will these illiterate Muslim farmers who speak no English manage to survive in American cities? In cinema verite style, the film follows them from the refugee camp through their first eighteen months in America, experiencing with them hope and despair, success and failure, and ultimately a kind of rebirth. Throughout the film, their poetry, umor and amazing resilience reveal our own world through new eyes.
THE FILMMAKER: Anne Makepeace has been a writer, producer, and director of award winning independent films for more than twenty years She is currently working on a documentary about the return of the Wampanoag language, the first time a language with no native speakers has been revived in an American Indian community. The project was awarded a development grant from the Sundance Documentary Fund late in 2007, and Makepeace recently received both a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Radcliffe Institute Fellowship in support of the project. She is also finishing a documentary about the architect I. M. Pei and his recently completed Suzhou Museum, entitled Building China Modern.