‘Enchained’ & ‘Anbessa’ to Screen at 2020 New African Film Festival

Opening with acclaimed historical drama ‘Enchained’ from Ethiopia, this year’s New African Film Festival in Silver Spring, Maryland features 39 films from 25 countries.

The new historical drama Enchained (ቁራኛዬ), that won awards in Best Film, Best Actor and Best Actress categories at Ethiopia’s 2019 Leza Awards, will be screened during opening night of the 2020 New African Film Festival in Silver Spring, Maryland next month. The festival is scheduled to take place at the historic AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center from March 5th to 19th.

In addition to Enchained the festival will also feature the documentary movie titled Anbessa, which highlights the underreported environmental and humanitarian issues related to Ethiopia’s booming housing and construction industry.

“The New African Film Festival is presented by The American Film Institute (AFI), Africa World Now Project and afrikafé, and showcases the vibrancy of African filmmaking from all corners of the continent and across the diaspora,” organizers said in a press statement. “Now in its 16th year, the festival brings the best in contemporary African cinema to the Washington, DC, area.”

Below are descriptions and trailers of the two Ethiopian films courtesy of AFI:

Thurs, March 5, 7:15 p.m.; also screens Wed, March 11, 9:30 p.m.
Q&A with director Moges Tafesse on March 5

In this lush historical drama set in 1916 Ethiopia, Gobeze (Zerihun Mulatu) is a timid, peace-loving literature student who has dedicated his life to studying Sem Ina Werq — riddles with dual meaning. After spending years searching for his first love, Aleme (Yimisirach Girma), who was abducted seven years earlier, he finally finds her married to Gonite (Tesfaye Yiman), a wealthy judge and landlord. When Gonite catches the two reunited lovers, a fight ensues. Following tradition, the feuding men are bound together, and, side by side, must make the long journey to stand trial in the royal court. “Combining breathtaking landscapes with superb performances, filmmaker Moges Tafesse takes the audience on a tense and moving journey suffused with passion, jealousy and bitter anger toward the traditional Ethiopian establishment.” – Filmuforia. Winner, Best Film, Best Actor and Best Actress, 2019 Leza Awards. Official Selection, 2019 African Diaspora International Film Festival. DIR/SCR/PROD Moges Tafesse. Ethiopia, 2019, color, 97 min. In Amharic and Ge’ez with English subtitles.

Co-presented by the Environmental Film Festival in the Nation’s Capital
Mon, March 16, 7:15 p.m.

Ancient Ethiopian farmlands are increasingly being cleared for dense condo development. Ten-year-old Asalif and his mother have already been displaced from their homestead to the outskirts of sprawling capital Addis Ababa, and it seems looming cranes are closing in on them again. With little to do, Asalif scavenges wires and bulbs from sprawling construction sites to literally keep the lights on in their makeshift house. Pushed around by new kids in the neighborhood, the sensitive child retreats into his imagination — the only place where he can rage like a lion against the forces he can’t control. Old enough to sense impending realities but still innocent enough to play, Asalif provides an irresistibly tender foil for the city’s coming-of-age story. A rare and thoroughly beautiful docufiction hybrid, ANBESSA observes the ever-forward march of progress with true originality. (Note adapted from Hot Docs Film Festival.) Official Selection, 2019 Berlin, IDFA, Hot Docs and Durban film festivals. DIR/SCR/PROD Mo Scarpelli; PROD Caitlin Mae Burke. Ethiopia/Italy/U.S., 2019, color, 85 min. In Amharic with English subtitles.

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