MOVIES: Documentary - Ethiopia
Awra Amba. Utopia in Ethiopia
Directed by Paulina Tervo

They harness education, equal rights for women and men and a strong work ethic. They believe there is a way out of poverty, hunger and inequality, simply by working hard, reversing traditional values and getting rid of lengthy religious practices. ‘They' are Awra Amba, a remarkable, home-grown rural community in the Amhara Region in Northern Ethiopia. Theirs is a story of belief in a better, more equal world where humans don't have to suffer, but live in peace and harmony. The film follows Zibad, a young woman who has just arrived in the village, seeking refuge with her five children after a violent marriage. We follow her trying to become a member and adjusting to a new way of life. Her mother Zeinab, the village's teahouse-keeper is at the heart of all social events – through her story we discover the every day challenges the community faces through interaction with outsiders who come in for tea and a chat. Finally the founder and leader, Zumra Nuru takes us on a journey to the past where he recounts how he as a young man left his home and family to try and change women's lives for the better in Ethiopia. His revolutionary vision was often met with hostility – and until this day, when he is 63 years old, he still needs round-the-clock protection by an armed guard due to decades of hatred and death threats.

Mothersland
Directed by Victoria Trofimenko and Yosef Haimanot

A documentary film about a young filmmaker that goes back to his home country Ethiopia after 21 years exile. He backtracks his journey step by step showing the places that he lived during the early years of his life-long journey. He was born in 1975 and lived through the civil war and the famine in 1984, which he witnessed first hand as a child. In 1988 at the age of 13 he and his brother climbed the anchor and stowed away on a Greek ship, which was bound for the UK.

Living with hunger (Surviving Hunger)

Directed by Charlotte MetcalfIn an unprecedented mission, Sorious Samura moves into a remote village in Ethiopia. Between August and September 2003 Sorious lived in a hut and survived on the same meager diet as the rest of the villagers. As well as this remarkable film, the DVD includes specially commissioned interviews with Sorious Samura, the film's director, Charlotte Metcalf and the film's editor, Richard Guard.

The Birth Of Little Ethiopia
Bruke Films

In November of 2002, Los Angeles celebrated the birth of Little Ethiopia. Thousands of Angelinos of all culture came for the celebration, including city councilman Nate Holden. Little Ethiopia represents the new faces of America. American where immigrants can retain their culture and adapt to an American way of life in their desire of justice, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. This documentary covers the birth and inauguration of this historical milestone.

Black Gold
Directed by Marc Francis and Nick Francis

After oil, coffee is the most actively traded commodity in the world. Black Gold asks us to face the unjust conditions under which our favorite drink is produced and to decide what we can do about it. The film traces the tangled trail from the two billion cups of coffee consumed each day back to the coffee farmers who produce the beans.

Black Coffee
Directed by Irene Angelico

Black Coffee is a three part documentary examining the complicated history of coffee and detailing its political, social and economic influence from the past to the present day.

Don't Forget your Passport - Ethiopia, Africa

Host Marie Cruz roams the canyons and plateaus of the Semien Mountain ranges along the warring-border zone of Eritrea. There, far from civilization, she discovers elaborate frescoes painted on the walls of a 12th century cave dwelling. She also stumbles across the brutal killing of livestock during a ritual ceremony to the Muslim God "Allah" the city of Gondar the Camelot of Africa.

A Walk to Beautiful
Directed by Mary Olive Smith
My rating:

The award winning feature-length documentary A Walk to Beautiful tells the stories of five Ethiopian women who suffer from devastating childbirth injuries and embark on a journey to reclaim their lost dignity. Rejected by their husbands and ostracized by their communities, these women are left to spend the rest of their lives in loneliness and shame. They make the choice to take the long and arduous journey to the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital in search of a cure and a new life.

Falasha: exile of the black jews
Directed by Simcha Jacobovici
My rating:

The tragic plight of Ethiopian Jews (Falashas) takes center stage in this well-researched and moving documentary but very outdated, many things happened since it was filmed in 1984.The Falashas ("exiles") have lived for over 2,000 years in this region and are vastly outnumbered in a state that is half Muslim, with Christians making up the next largest religious group. But the discrimination arises from politics: Jews were massacred after the 1974 Marxist military coup — not by the Marxists, but by their opposition, because they feared the Falashas would support the government. They are also prosecuted by the Marxists who fear Judaism stops them from supporting the government.

Mystery of the Nile
My rating:

Join a team of explorers on the expedition of a lifetime as they set off to become the first to navigate the Blue Nile from source to sea. The epic 3,260 mile descent down the world's greatest and deadliest river has eluded humankind for centuries - until now! Over the arduous, four month journey, the team faces nearly in-surmountable challenges - from crocodile attacks to armed bandits and arrests. Through breathtaking cinematography, Mystery of the Nile reveals a wondrous region and abundant treasures, from Tissisat Falls and the wonders of Egypt to the forgotten black pyramids of Meroe and 12th century churches that were carved into sheer rock.

Ethiopia: Africa's Lost Kingdom

A tour through Ethiopia from the northern highlands of Abysinnia to the southern isolated cultures along the Omo River. Discover where the Lost Ark really is! See the castles of Gondar, the ancient walled city of Harrar, the Semien Mountains (the highest in Africa), the glorious Christmas celebration at Lalibela, and the Timkat celebration in Addis Ababa, plus the ancient castle of the Queen of Sheba…but most of all meet an unbelievably ancient culture (the oldest Christian church on earth), and meet the Ethiopians…the kindest, most dignified, and beautiful people you will ever meet.

Geldof in Africa

Geldof in Africa is a profound, provocative, beautifully made six-part series that aired in 2005 on Britain's BBC. Sir Bob, who narrates both on and offscreen, visited many parts of what he calls "the Luminous Continent", including Somaliland, a sort of non-country whose very existence isn't acknowledged by any other nation; Ghana, from which slaves were once shipped to America and elsewhere; the Congo, the true heart of darkness, which still bears the ugly scars of Belgian colonization; the Sahara desert, Uganda, where a brutal "rebel leader" abducts children and turns them into sex slaves and soldiers; and Ethiopia, where it all started for Geldof.

Michael Wood: In Search of Myths and Heroes
Directed by: Jeremy Jeffs

Michael Wood takes an epic journey, following in the path of the Queen of Sheba, searching for Shangri-La in Tibet, untangling the tales of King Arthur's Celtic Britain and tracing the trek of Jason who sought the Golden Fleece.

Home Across Lands
Directed by John Lavall

HOME ACROSS LANDS is a documentary that explores the journey of resettlement– it tells the story of a small group of Kunama refugees and how they reestablish their sense of community in their new home in America. Considered to be some of the original inhabitants of Eritrea, the Kunama people are a marginalized minority populating the remote and fertile regions near the border of Ethiopia. In 1998, war between Eritrea and Ethiopia broke out in a conflict over these border lands forcing over 4,000 Kunama to flee across the border into Northern Ethiopia. In 2000, the war ended with the Eritrean government regaining control of the disputed area, separating thousands of Kunama from their homeland and way of life. Today the Kunama wait in desolation, 45 km from the disputed Eritrean/Ethiopian border, warehoused in the Shimelba Refugee Camp in Northern Ethiopia. Life in the camp is difficult and opportunities for a better life are nonexistent, but the Kunama remain committed to their strong sense of community and family in spite of their displacement. Unwanted in Ethiopia and unable to return to their homes safely, a small number of Kunama are given the opportunity for resettlement in the United States.

Like a man on Earth (Come un uomo sulla terra)
Directed by Dagmawi Yimer

Giving voice to the Ethiopian refugees living in Rome, the film provides a direct insight into the brutal ways in which Libya, aided also by Italian and European funds, is operating to control the immigration movements of people from Africa. “Come un uomo sulla terra” is a journey of pain and dignity, through which Dagmawi Yimer voices his memories of unthinkable human suffering to denounce what appears to be a tragic political and humanitarian situation . In this respect both Italy and Europe share responsibilities for this situation and should be made accountable for it.

Guzo - The journey
Directed by Aida Ashenafi

The film chronicles the interaction between two young residents of Addis Ababa and their peers in the Ethiopian countryside. Over the course of 20-days both the urbanites and country folks are forced to confront stereotypes about each other and grapple with issues of gender and privilege.

All of Us
Directed by Emily Abt

In the South Bronx, a young doctor embarks on a research project to find out why black women are being infected with the HIV virus at an alarming rate. Dr. Mehret Mandefro takes us into the lives and relationships of two of her female patients, Chevelle and Tara, as they identify and struggle with the social factors that put them at risk. Mehret expands her research to include women across boundaries of race, class and country. She also begins to grapple with these extremely personal themes as they appear in her own life. A visit to Ethiopia, her birthplace, and candid conversations with her privileged girlfriends in New York, yield a startling realization: heterosexual women across the continents face a dangerous power imbalance in the bedroom. When she lets her hair down, steps out of her doctor's role, and confesses her own weaknesses, even this Harvard trained physician sounds just like one of us. ALL OF US is about AIDS but it is not a tragedy. It is a story of resilience, sisterhood and courage.

The Name my Mother Gave Me
Directed by: Eli Tal-El

The Name My Mother Gave Me" is a film about growth and self discovery. We follow Ethiopian and Russian Israelis who meet at a leadership training program in Israel. Their year of learning culminates in a journey to Ethiopia where the Ethiopian born participants return to their native villages and confront their roots. Though, back home in Israel, all the participants would consider themselves members of the fringes of Israeli society, in the highlands of the Ethiopian landscape they discover the universality of their experiences and their shared commitment to their new home in Israel. How will this journey transform them?

I had a Dream
Directed by Tezeta Germay

As a young boy, born into a closed and isolated community in Ethiopia, far from the centers of the Jewish world, Yona Bugale was brought to Europe, where he discovered his common heritage with the Jewish people. Yona Bugale himself did not live to see the realization of his dream and life's work, yet he worked ceaselessly as a teacher and community leader, promoting connections with the State of Israel and with Jewish organizations, in order to prevent the possible destruction of Ethiopian Jewry. Based on rare archival material, the film's aim is to expose and preserve not only an extraordinary life story, but also, to give expression to the complexity of the Ethiopian aliyah and of their absorption in Israel.

These Are My Names
Directed by Ruth Mason

Ethiopian Jews' multiple names reflect the richness, wisdom and beauty of their culture — and every name tells a story. In the film, young Ethiopian Israelis share their journeys toward their names: stories of love and connection, survival and loss, anger and pride. The characters' original names – changed without their consent upon arrival in Israel – take them back to their childhoods in mountain villages, to the hunger and fear in Sudan, to longing for loved ones who died or disappeared on the journey to Israel, to denial of their identity... and reclamation of their roots.

Black Over White
Directed by Tomer Heymann

Tomer Heymann followed Israeli pop/world-beat band The Idan Raichel Project on their 2006 concert tour to Ethiopia and emerged with a documentary that rollicks and rocks. The film, part lighthearted road trip, part examination of multiculturalism in Israel, is a close-up ride with the young Israeli-Ethiopian-Yemenite band members, who muse on the loss of their heritage and on their excitement as tourists embracing roots in Africa. Black Over White deftly explores their cultural ambivalence and their experience of racism back home in Israel. One of the musicians is reunited with his grandmother in Addis, music is made with rural villagers and in urban clubs, and in one poignant sequence, future immigrants to Israel meet the musicians. The culminating concert—a fusion of Middle Eastern multiethnic grooves—is a success and emotional high point, but for the band members, the meaning of home remains elusive.

Bewoket. By the Will of God
Directed by Andrea Mydlarz Zeller and Sam Shnider

In the small village of Debre Markos, in the northern hill country of Ethiopia, Sintayehu Tedesse lives with his family. He has eight children, and he has lost five to various diseases or weak health. Bewoket, his third son, is very sick. At age nine Bewoket overheard his parents saying, "He is so sick, it would be better if he died." There was some truth to their words: this boy would never last as a farmer. A quick end to his suffering would be better. But Bewoket decided to find help on his own. He got up from the bed in the middle of the night, and ran away from his father's village. He knew only “Addis Ababa” the distant far off capital he had never seen. Hobbling, barely able to walk, he crossed sixty miles of countryside on foot, gathered food by the wayside, sold it for a bus ticket, and finally made his way to the capital where he met Dr. Rick Hodes, an American doctor who has devoted his life to working in Africa. Rick made friends with him, and took him home for better medical care. Rick had a family of adopted orphans, and Bewoket fit right in. But for Bewoket to completely heal his heart, he must travel to America. Bewoket's journey to America is an amazingly successful one: his heart is repaired and he is given a new chance at life. He also sees a new world: a world of toys and cars and shopping malls, and dazzling whirring wonders like the towers and conveyor belts of Coca Cola World. It is a world unlike any he has ever known, and it changes him.

Making the Crooked Straight
Directed by Susan Cohn Rockefeller

Born in Long Island, New York and educated at John Hopkins-Dr. Rick Hodes has dedicated his life to helping heal the sick and poor of Ethiopia over the past 20 years. Many of his patients are stricken with tuberculosis of the spine, a disease that creates massive humps on the backs of its victims. Eventually they're forced into permanent forward-bending posture, which in turn prevents their lungs from working properly, and if left untreated leads to death. Driven by his devotion to Orthodox Judaism and its belief that “He who saves one life, saves an entire world', Hodes provides these patients with hospital care - arranges for complex overseas surgeries - often paying for these out of his own pocket - and has, thus far, fostered seventeen children in order to provide them with not only proper medical care but a home and an education. “Making the Crooked Straight” explores this remarkable man's work in Ethiopia, his highly original family life, and the spirituality that has guided his choices and sacrifices.

Soles of Ethiopia
Joost van der Wiel

Soles of Ethiopia is an original documentary about Ethiopians and their shoes. Every pair of shoes contains a unique and personal story about those who wear them. It will show that daily life in Ethiopia is not solely determined by the Big Problems (such as AIDS, war, corruption, famine and poverty), but by individual choices. It will shake up the image that we all know too well. Ethiopia: a third world country in desperate need for our help. This film is made out of frustration about the one sided view in Western Europe and the United States and the easiness in which billions are spend on aid every year. International aid organisations and the media have focused on problems only, for many, many years. This documentary will provide essential information about the lives of Ethiopians in Addis Ababa: it will give them a face. Every Ethiopian makes his own choices, takes his own chances, solves his own problems and, off course, creates his own success. The series of portraits in Soles of Ethiopia tells the stories of Ethiopians of different backgrounds by their shoes.