Two child actors from Somalia are headed to the Oscars on Sunday for their nominated short film Asad after filmmakers and others including U.S. and South African government officials rallied to arrange passports, visas, transportation and lodging. Brothers Harun Mohamed (14) and Ali Mohamed (12) were flying today from Cape Town join filmmakers Brian Buckley and Mino Jarjoura for the Oscars. Asad has won popular acclaim along the film festival circuit since April when it premiered at Tribeca Film Festival where it won Best Short Film. Written and directed by Buckley, the film centers on a war-torn fishing village in Somalia and follows a 12-year-old boy who must decide between the pirate life or becoming an honest fisherman. Asad was inspired by a United Nations short documentary, No Autographs. Thanks to filmmakers Buckley and Jarjoura of the U.S. and South Africa’s Rafiq Samsodien, the boys who had never attended school have received private tuition and enrolled in a home school system in South Africa. Buckley noted they have been “on a time crunch from the time the nominations were announced and right up to the last minute on Thursday when their visas and passports were granted by the government of South Africa to allow Harun and Ali to be here. We are very excited to bring them as our guests.”

Herman Yau & Jafar Panahi Bookend Hong Kong Festival
The 37th Hong Kong International Film Festival (March 17 through April 2) opens with Herman Yau’s Ip Man: The Final Fight and closes with Closed Curtain, the Berlin fest Silver Bear winner directed by Iran’s Jafar Panahi and Kaboziya Partovi. Yau is a festival regular and the latest is a sequel to his The Legend is Born: Ip Man (2010). Wong Kar-wai’s own Ip Man movie, The Grandmaster, will screen in the Panorama section. Johnnie To’s Drug War, Arvin Chen’s Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow? and Ronny Yu’s Saving General Yang will unspool in gala premieres. Among films that a curiously missing from the annual industry overview is Stephen Chow’s Journey To The West: Conquering The Demons, which has broken China box office records. Roughly 70 new Asian movies figure among 306 features and shorts in the lineup. Additionally there are 10 new titles from both Japan and South Korea, seven from India and three each from Indonesia and the Philippines. Thailand and Australia also have a single feature each. Four titles from Tokyo Filmex’s large retrospective of Kinoshita Keisuke (1912-1998) also tour to Hong Kong following their presentation at the Berlin International Film Festival.