Pollywood: ‘Fishing Without Nets’

by Editorial

Arlington native’s short film makes a splash at Sundance… and the Newseum.
By Sarah Valerio

Raphael Swann, John Hibey and Cutter Hodierne address the crowd after the Newseum screening. (Photo by Duy Tran)

“There are two ways to fish; with nets or without. But if I fish with violence, will my net be full of blood?”

This is the question asked by Abdi, the main character in “Fishing Without Nets,” a fictional film told from the perspective of Somali pirates. The 17-minute film recently premiered in Washington to a sold-out crowd at the Newseum, after capturing the Grand Jury Prize in Short Filmmaking at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival.

In fact, “sold-out” crowd doesn’t quite do the scene justice.

Audience members stood along the walls and sat in extra rows of folding chairs brought in for the event, after and during which they continually erupted in roaring applause. Some of the loudest applause came from the family and friends of Cutter Hodierne, the 25-year-old Arlington native who directed the film.

Hodierne and producers John Hibey and Raphael Swann walked on stage in sneakers, slacks and T-shirts after the D.C. screening for a question-and-answer session. The experience seemed surreal to the three young men, who used their phones to take pictures from the stage of the audience. Hodierne said his inspiration for the film and fascination with Somali pirates came from articles published in The New York Times by Jeffrey Gettleman.

“I read these articles about these guys, fishermen who become pirates, who had nothing, going out and doing that – robbing ships and pirating – and thought, ‘who are they?’ ” Hodierne said. He also admitted he further developed many of his ideas over Google Chat before picking up and relocating to Kenya, where “Fishing Without Nets” was filmed.

Due to unanticipated road blocks, it took Hodierne and his crew months to film what they initially thought would only take days to complete. The main snag they encountered was obtaining guns from the police, as guns are illegal to own in Kenya. But from that issue, to the filming locations (often on privately owned land), to the actors themselves (discovered for the most part at an informal casting session at a local night club), “people were amenable if you gave them the right price,” Hodierne said.

But even once acquired, it seemed that every step in the process caused Hodierne and the crew more woes. “You guys were robbed so many times, I’m surprised you had enough money to make the movie,” quipped Swann about Hodierne and Hibey.

“When we were done filming, the police arrested the entire cast and threw them in jail on the last day of filming,” said Hodierne, adding that he and the crew quickly got them out.

Hodierne sees “Fishing Without Nets” as “just the beginning of a feature-length movie about this subject.” If the size and enthusiasm of the crowd at the Newseum, and the reception at Sundance are any indications, this could also well be the launch of a successful career in filmmaking for Hodierne, Hibey and Swann.

Cutter Hodierne, director of "Fishing Without Nets." (Photo by Duy Tran)

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