Private Project

Mama: Norway's Afghan Sons

The film "Mama" relays the stories and asylum experiences of six
Afghan asylum seekers as narrated through the voice of a retired
Norwegian teacher Gro Dregelid, who has taken in 60 such boys since 2009.

  • Preethi Reddy Nallu
    Growing up in Afghanistan (Webby award), Child Refugee in Belgrade (Migration Media Award)
  • Rania Itani
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    42 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    August 31, 2022
  • Production Budget:
    25,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
    Afghanistan, France, Norway, Spain
  • Language:
    Norwegian, Other, Persian, Urdu
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Refugee Reporting Award - One World Media - Long List
    United Kingdom
    June 20, 2022
    Refugees Reporting Award - One World Media - Long List
  • Documentary Kino - Norway - Film screening
    November 29, 2021
    Norway Premiere
  • University of Denton - Texas lecture series
    Denton, Texas
    United States
    January 24, 2022
    Film screening and lecture
Distribution Information
  • Al Jazeera English - Close Up Short Docs
    Country: Worldwide
    Rights: All Rights, Internet
Director Biography - Preethi Reddy Nallu

Preethi Nallu is a writer, researcher, film-maker and advocacy specialist from India. She was founding editor at Refugees Deeply. Born in Iran, raised in India, Preethi's career spans 14 countries across the global north and south. She has researched, reported and campaigned about humanitarian and media development issues. Her films and reports won two Webby awards, two Migration Media awards, and a Human Rights Press Award. Preethi has worked for mainstream media outlets such as Al Jazeera English and Foreign Policy, global think tanks such as Chatham House, and led multimedia campaigns for the UN and global NGOs such as the Norwegian Refugee Council and International Media Support (IMS). In her last role as co-editor at Mediabridge, supported by IMS, she created a digital platform with an Indian design team, &all, and facilitated partnerships between media of different sizes.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

The main narrative of "Mama" is led by Gro Dregelid, a retired Norwegian school teacher, who has helped hundreds of Afghan refugee boys navigate the asylum labyrinth of Europe, and has become a guardian and a mother to at least 50-60 of them.

Gro, in turn, relays the stories of various boys, some who were resettled in Norway and others, who are re-applying in France, Spain and other locations across Europe - and yet others have been deported back to Afghanistan.

"Mama" showcases the bonds that are forged between hosts and asylum seekers, early into their arrival in a country. Gro embodies the power of individual hospitality as the host. The various boys display the determination of young asylum seekers to pursue fresh chances in life when given the opportunity. When these two forces come together, we see the most ideal form of integration at a human and community level. And integration, I believe, is a two-way process. It requires effort from both the host and the guest to understand each other’s contexts, cultures and aspirations.

The power of documentary lies in the fact that the film or the reportage is not the end of the project, but the launching point of a much longer conversation. So I've used ‘Mama' as a way of exploring the current realities that are prompting the flight of Afghans as they arrive in different parts of Europe.

A shorter version of "Mama" was published by Al Jazeera English as "Norway's Afghan Sons" ( and shortlisted for the One World Media Award. I am submitting the director's cut, which was shown by the Thomson Foundation and at different venues in Norway and the United States. I plan to return to Afghanistan, Norway and Spain, to continue filming the next chapter in the journeys of the various boys.