Yared Zeleke’s brilliant debut, Lamb, has set the bar extraordinarily high for the Ethiopian film industry. The semi-autobiographical tale of a precocious boy’s soul-searching after the death of his mother was the country’s first ever film to be featured at the Cannes Film Festival. Lamb’s jaw-dropping cinematography and affecting performances betray its shoestring budget and amateur cast; Zeleke leverages the breathtaking Ethiopian highlands as a silent but bonafide supporting character.
Friday, April 15, 6:45 pm
Saturday, April 16, 1:10 pm
Director: Yared Zeleke
Producers: Laurent Lavole, Ama Ampadu, Johannes Rexin
Writer: Yared Zeleke
Cinematographer: Josée Deshaies
Editor: Véronique Bruque
Music: Christophe Chassol
Cast: Rediat Amare, Kidist Siyum, Welela Assefa, Surafel Teka, Rahel Teshome, Indris Mohamed
Carrying the film is Rediat Amare as young Ephraim, whose father sends him (and his best friend, a lamb named Chuni) to live with extended family in a rural village far from Addis Ababa. There, traditional cultural roles and norms clash with Ephraim’s ambitions to develop his impressive cooking talent and expand his horizons to the lush green valley he overlooks below. Teased and criticized as a foolish dreamer, he tries to find his way forward through his own dogged determination (an apt metaphor for the country’s fiercely independent identity).
Zeleke strikes an impressive balance between humor, mourning, and heartfelt pride in his native country and culture. Lamb pairs nicely with last year’s MSPIFF offering Zemene; both films highlight how a fusion of ancient tradition and measured modernity are moving the country confidently forward.