Warriors is a documentary following a group of young Maasai who, in a remote region of Kenya, remarkably, form a cricket team. They relate the sport to their traditional hunting techniques – the ball is the spear, the bat is the shield – and their flowing red robes in full flight are an awesome sight. The film follows the team as they pursue their dream of reaching the Lords Cricket ground in England, the home of cricket, and test themselves in the amateur Last Man Standing World Championship.
As well as this the men are trying to change the culture of the Maasai, who’s women are still subject to female genital mutilation (FGM) and have very few rights within the tribe. The practice of FGM is also linked to the spread of HIV and Aids throughout the tribes with many fearing their very existence is under threat.
Therefore, you may be expecting a very hard hitting, dramatic documentary, something stern, something a bit tough going. Instead what you get is a fantastically shot, well put together, immensely engaging film about the young Maasai using cricket as a means of getting their message to the elders of the tribe.
All of the young men you see in the film are obviously well educated, they are standing up for women’s rights in their tribe, going against the elders which, as we’re told, is not something you do as a Maasai Warrior. You hunt, you don’t give an opinion, even if you have one. The elders are the wise old owls who make the decisions.
Director / Producer / Composer Barney Douglas spent three years of his life on the documentary and it shows in the detail that is within. It’s wonderfully shot, with a great tone and warmth throughout. Cricketer James Anderson also executive produces, his first involvement in film.
Aliya Bauer, a South African woman, introduced cricket to the Maasai in 2007. She is also the teams coach and brought with her all the equipment the young Maasai use when learning the game.
The journey these young Maasai go on is truly remarkable. From having the British army build their cricket pitch after playing on rough ground for so long, to be being invited to play at the Last Man Standing World Championship in London to returning and facing their elders.
This isn’t a fairy tale, this is real, and as such you witness the lows as well as the highs, it was a bit of a rollercoaster emotionally.
When the Maasai return from their trip they still have perhaps the hardest part of their journey to complete, that of facing the elders. They gather them together and ask them outright to put an end to FGM. This, they say, would never have happened had it not been for the confidence cricket gave the young men and the things it allowed them to see, the knowledge it allowed them to gather. And it’s that that the elders see more than anything. That these young men, having traveled far and wide, are now the wise old owls.
45% of any profit from the film is being sent directly back to a trust fund in the community, which has been set up to pay for an education & sport centre for young people.
The film was shot almost exclusively on a Canon 5D camera, with the exception of the Maasai-shot footage, which was filmed on an iPhone donated by Apple.