TFF Review: "The Project"


For over a decade, Somali pirates have been terrorizing one of the world’s most popular shipping routes along the coast of Africa.  The country of Somalia has long lacked any form of centralized government, finding itself defenseless in the face of these pirates.

Since most hijacked ships are transporting goods between Asia and America, one might wrongfully guess the international community was already involved. And since most hijackings result in long-term kidnapping/torture, one might also assume human rights groups are getting involved; but again that would be incorrect.

So then, who is tackling the issue of Somali pirates?

'The Project' shines a spotlight on Somali’s resolution efforts, through an independent mercenary group known as the Puntland Martime Police Force. Independent military contractors have been hired (via international fundraising) to arm and train an army of Somali men under the single mission of ridding Somalia of pirates.

"It ultimately faces mutiny, death, and political infighting in a dangerous quest to pull off the impossible: waging an epic battle on the high seas to rescue dozens of innocent hostages." There are moments of ‘The Project’ that feel more like a Die Hard movie than reality, which can be especially jarring when you remember that in the center of this stands a man with no gun, holding a camera.

The documentary takes a necessary front-line perspective. Often raw and powerful, footage comes from the center of camps and the front of battle lines. The camera is dropped during gunfire, ordered away during mutiny, and occasionally used to document soldier’s last words.

Intertwined personal testimony brings a strong human component to the film by sharing stories of those immediately affected by the kidnappings. We hear from mothers and daughters who feel like nobody is doing anything to help their loved ones, who are currently being held for ransom—often tortured—for months, even years.

'The Project’s is engaging and insightful, without ever losing focus of the difficult narrative it sets out to share.

Ultimately, The Project’ is less a fun movie, and more a serious story that needs to be told. The fact that ‘The Project’ is such an interesting and successful film is more a testament to the drive, passion and dedication of Shawn Efran and Adam Ciralsky than anything else.


3.5 out of 5 stars