Ethiopian movie gets a boost from French film industry

France 24
September 1199,2015

© Yared Zekele | Scene from 'Lamb'
© Yared Zekele | Scene from ‘Lamb’

Ethiopia’s first success at the Cannes Film Festival tells a simple tale, but the film’s director has set his sights on the world stage thanks to support from the French film industry.

Having successfully premiered “Lamb” in the director’s home city of Addis Ababa earlier this month, the filmmakers have turned their attention to their next important release: in France on September 30.

Earlier this year, “Lamb” became the first Ethiopian film selected for the Cannes Film Festival. It tells the story of a young boy, Ephraim, who is sent by his father to live with his extended family far from home. Ephraim’s only friend is a lamb called Chuni, but his uncle wants to slaughter it for a forthcoming religious festival, setting the clock ticking for this unlikely cinematic pairing.

From the earliest days of scriptwriting to the final days of post-production, this thoroughly Ethiopian cinematic rendition has overcome numerous challenges – thanks to the French film industry.

“When I first read ‘Lamb’ it was obvious to me there was an audience for such a film in France,” said Ghanaian producer Ama Ampadu, who lives in Paris and studied in France. “French audiences have developed a taste for African cinema through the works of African directors like Abderrahmane Sissako, director of ‘Timbuktu’. And when you delve into how these films came about, you will find a French component – it could be the financing, the crew, the world sales agent [or the] producers.”

“It’s not a commercial film, which I like,” said 33-year-old filmgoer Daniel Meles after the Addis Ababa premiere. “For my generation, it’s the first film to take us into the countryside, beyond Addis Ababa.”

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