The film selection
All these aspects could not be investigated and explored without works capable of reflecting both the complexity and the fascination of the country, capturing faces and recounting stories. This Destination… Ethiopia has been made possible precisely thanks to the emergence of a number of films by both foreign directors and Ethiopian filmmakers, often training abroad, at international festivals, as in the case of the award-winning film Faya Dayi (Ethiopia/USA/Qatar, 2021) by Jessica Beshir. Filmed in Harar, the rural town where the director grew up, it explores the cultivation and trade of khat, a traditional Ethiopian plant with stimulant properties, through the eyes of a group of young people and extraordinary black and white images.
The total immersion in the Ethiopian landscape continues with Marcher pour Genna (Belgium, 2018) by Frédéric Furnelle and Olivier Bourguet, the story of the traditional pilgrimage of orthodox Ethiopians to the town of Lalibela, over a period of many days, crossing the Simien mountains and magnificent countryside, and with Lamb (Ethiopia/France/Germany/Norway, 2015) by Yared Zeleke, the only full-length narrative film in the selection, which features the young Ephraim as he goes on an adventurous journey across Ethiopia, to escape exploitation, return to his family and save his inseparable companion, a sheep.
The role of Ethiopian women in their communities and in imagining a future for their country will be central to the programme. Two films dedicated to such women are Among Us Women (Germania/Ethiopia, 2021) by Sarah Noa Bozenhardt and Daniel Abate Tilahun, focusing on the staff of a health centre in a rural area of Ethiopia, combating maternal mortality, and Stand Up My Beauty (Switzerland/Germany, 2021) by Heidi Specogna, featuring an Azmari singer from Addis Ababa, who dreams of using her music to recount the life of Ethiopian women, her stories taking us on a journey exploring a rapidly evolving country.
From mountains and remote areas, the programme makes its way to the outskirts of Addis Ababa: Anbessa (Ethiopia/Italy/USA, 2019) by Mo Scarpelli explores the suburbs through the growth of a young boy, poised between the old and modern worlds and between the city and the countryside, whereas Rift Finfinnee (Germany, 2020) by Daniel Kötter takes the viewer on a journey through the geography, architecture and daily life of the area, following agricultural works and builders from the eastern zone of Addis Ababa, to reflect on the urbanisation of African society.
A significant Italian contribution is also planned, with the short films Africa bianca by Filippo Foscarini and Marta Violante (Italy, 2020) and Mud Road by Francesco De Giorgi (Italy, 2019), and the documentary-essay Negus (Italy, 2016) directed by Italian artistic duo Invernomuto (starring the recently deceased legendary musician Lee “Scratch” Perry), who explore the convergence of history, myth, and magic through the complex and conflicting legacies of Ethiopia’s last emperor, Haile Selasie I, between Italy, Ethiopia, and Jamaica.