Stolen Seas: Tales of Somali Piracy

(GB, Somalia, 2011, 92 mins, DCP)
Guest speaker: Matthew Raffety
Matthew Raffety is a historian who has written extensively about maritime history. His published work on piracy includes The Enemy of All Mankind: Pirates, Piracy and the Autonomy of the High Seas for the journal “Contra Mundum IV”. Raffety has a PhD from Columbia University and teaches at Redlands University in California. His book The Republic Afloat: Law, Honor, and Citizenship in Maritime America was released this spring by The University of Chicago Press. Raffety is featured in the film Stolen Seas.


November 7, 2008, the Danish (Bahamas-registered) cargo vessel CEC Future was boarded by Somali pirates. For 70 days the international crew was held captive at gunpoint while the pirates and the Danish owners negotiated.

This evening Vancity Theatre presents two films inspired by this story, one a documentary (Stolen Seas), the other a dramatic feature (A Hijacking) written and directed by Tobias Lindholm, whose last film was The Hunt.

Talking to pirates, hostages, their relatives and their employers, Stolen Seas director Thymaya Payne throws the viewer into the middle of the real-life hostage negotiations. As the haggling between the ship’s owner, Per Gullestrup, and the pirate’s negotiator, Ishmael Ali, drags on for months, these two adversaries form a strong connection and a fascinating dual character study emerges. Stolen Seas presents a thrilling blow-by-blow account of the CEC Future and a chilling but admirably balanced exploration of the Somali pirate phenomenon.

"Riveting…a dense, sometimes dangerous 90-minute immersion in a world where lawlessness applies to all sides." Peter Debruge, Variety

"A documentary of such ambitious scope you might need a remote control and a notebook to keep up with it." Omer M Mozaffar, Chicago Sun-Times