Ethiopia | France | Germany | Norway | Qatar 2015
Opening November 26, 2015
Directed by: Yared Zeleke
Writing credits: Yared Zeleke, Géraldine Bajard
Principle actors: Rediat Amare, Kidist Siyum, Welela Assefa, Rahel Teshome, Surafel Teka
Abraham (Indris Mohamed) has had a hard year, and now has to make a harder decision. Ephraim’s (Amare) reaction is expected, but knowing he can bring his beloved Chuni appeases the nine-year-old somewhat. Bidding their neighbors farewell, the bus lumbers south. Great-aunt Emama’s (Assefa) assurances finally convince Abraham that Ephraim is welcome while he continues to the city in search of work. But, Ephraim misses his mother, his father, his village. Hence Solomon (Teka), determined the boy should do manly work, instead distances Ephraim; allies eventually are Solomon’s wife and daughter. Azeb’s (Teshome) solution is their secret, whereas 17-year-old Tsion (Siyum) dreams big, and is bold with knowledge from the outside world. Tsion relates also on a much deeper, more intimate level with Ephraim. Little Mimi’s (Bitania Abraham) illness, the looming feast day, and Solomon’s absorption with serving lamb meat seems to seal Chuni’s fate. Tensions increase; in this strange, mountainous, verdant landscape Ephraim must somehow save them.
Director Yared Zeleke’s debut feature is part poignant drama, part travelogue; Lamb is set in his native Ethiopia, and is the country’s first film to be selected for Cannes. The simple story concentrates on the dynamics, and interdependency in families and in relation to nature. Josée Deshaies’ cinematography encapsulates spectacular vistas, and sharing tsebhi (stew) on injera (flatbread). Christophe Chassol’s sparingly dispersed music includes traditional instruments that compliments Véronique Bruque’s measured editing. Laurence Brenguier’s production design takes us in close and personal. Yet, the thespians – this is Amare’s debut – endear us most. Ephraim steals our hearts as he makes his place in new surroundings. German subtitles; 94 minutes (Marinell H.)