MOVIES: Fiction - Ethiopia
Endurance Directed
Bud Greenspan

This film about Ethiopian distance runner Haile Gebrsellasie, who won gold at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and is considered one of the greatest runners of all time, is a dramatization that often appears to be a documentary. Beautifully photographed, the footage shot in Haile's native land is often spectacular enough to make you think you're watching a National Geographic special. (Only in VHS)

Live and Become
Directed by Radu Mihaleanu
My rating:

The film centers on the plight of Ethiopian Jews, called Falashas, forced to flee to Sudanese refugee camps for relief from persecution and famine. In 1984, "Oper­ation Moses" begins the airlift of Falashas to Israel. A Christian woman in a refugee camp wants a better life for her nine-year-old son. She orders him to pretend to be Jewish so he can be air­lifted out. After a poignant silent glance with the boy's mother, a Falasha woman whose son has recently died takes the boy's hand as she boards the plane to Israel.

Journey to Lasta
Directed by Wondwossen D. Dikran

Inspired by a true story, the Lasta journey begins when three childhood friends from Ethiopia reunite at various stages in their mundane lives as struggling musicians. Together, they embark upon a musical mission to bring modern Ethiopian music to the world. Hardships, triumphs, and rude awakenings ultimately test their faith, friendship, and honor to overcome the struggles to make their music a success.

13 Months of Sunshine
Directed by Yehdego Abeselom
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13 Months of Sunshine is the story of an Ethiopian man who marries a woman so she can get a green card and become a citizen of the United States. In exchange, her family pays him $20,000, enough to open up his own dream business–an authentic Ethiopian coffee house. During the year-long naturalization process, they must learn to live with each other, finding that the marriage of convenience becomes complicated through love, jealousy, and the clash of cultural values each must face in following their dreams.

The Athlete (Atletu)
Directed by Davey Frenkel And Rasselas Lakew

Running the streets of Rome in 1960, an unknown barefoot Ethiopian man stunned the world by winning Olympic gold in the marathon. Overnight, Abebe Bikila became a sports legend. A hero in his own country and to the continent, Bikila was the first African to win a gold medal and, four years later, in Tokyo, the first person in history to win consecutives Olympic gold medals in the marathon. This soldier and quiet son of a shepherd is considered by many the greatest long-distance runner in history. Atletu premiered at the 2009 Edinburg Film Festival to completely sold-out audiences, and was chosen “Best of Fest”.

Directed by Haile Gerima

Teza is set in Germany and Ethiopia, and examines the displacement of African intellectuals, both at home and abroad, through the story of a young, idealistic Ethiopian doctor – Anberber. The film chronicles Anberber's internal struggle to stay true, both to himself and to his homeland, but above all, Teza explores the possession of memory – a right humanity mandates that each of us have – the right to our own pasts. After studying medicine abroad in Germany for several years, Anberber returns home to Ethiopia only to find his beloved Ethiopia, and soon the quiet of his dreams, stifled and disarrayed by the country's political turmoil.

Caravan 841
Directed by Zion Rubin

Moshe, an 11 year-old Ethipian boy, lives in dwindling “Atidim” caravan site in the Wester Galilee and is awaiting the arrival of his mother from Ethiopia. She will not arrive and he is torn between Aharon, a 60-year-old repentant Jew who teaches him Torah, and Walter – an impulsive African American saxophone player who has a jazz club at the edge of the site. Aharon gives Moshe a magic box and promises him that it will bring his mother to Israel. Walter gives Moshe the strength to believe only in himself.

Directed by Nega Tariku

Adera is a heart wrenching story about an Ethiopian refugee's struggle to survive in the city of Johannesburg. Life in South Africa is dangerous and earning money is difficult. She quickly discovers that Johannesburg is not the promised city of gold. Marlam struggles to provide for her two children back home and through a series of twisted circumstances ends up as a surrogate mother for a wealthy Ethiopian couple, Tiru and Fre. Their fate is tied to that of Biru's, the shady middle man who is only interested in money. As this unique African story unfolds, the true cost of dreams is revealed and each life is changed forever. Adera is a story of love, hope, deception and the human will to survive. Adera raises questions about old traditions and how they affect the lives of modern Ethiopians. One of the critical issues Adera confronts is adoption in Ethiopia. The culture in Ethiopia, as in most of Africa, is not to adopt children. With so many orphans left behind and the numbers always growing, it is high time to take fresh look at these conventions.

Directed by Shmuel Beru

ZRUBAVEL is Israel's first all Ethiopian feature film. Gite Zrubavel and his wife immigrated to Israel with their three children, Hana, Almaz and Gili. Hana's husband has become religious without her support. Almaz marries a distant relative against her parents' wishes. Gili vacillates between a life of crime and a dream of becoming an Israeli hero. Gite's grandson, Itzhak, known as “Spike Lee” aspires to a film directing career. The story unfolds through his video camera lens as he films everything in his neighborhood, from the mundane to the criminal. A chain of events undermines Gite's control over his family. The struggle is between Gite's cherished Ethiopian customs and the younger generation's desire to assimilate within Israeli culture. ZRUBAVEL is Shmuel Beru's screenwriting and directorial debut. In 1984, at the age of eight, Beru walked across the Sudanese desert to immigrate to Israel as part of the United Jewish Appeal sponsored Operation Moses.