JCU Ethiopian Film Festival Presents Lamb by Yared Zeleke

Lamb, by Yared Zeleke

The poster of the film

On Tuesday, March 21, 2017, John Cabot University’s Department of Communications in collaboration with the Guarini Institute for Public Affairs presented the second film of the Ethiopian Film Festival, Lamb by Yared Zeleke.

The film follows Ephraim, a young boy who is forced to leave his hometown after the death of his mother and a long-lasting drought. The boy’s father, having to look for work in the city, leaves him with his great-aunt. Ephraim’s only connection to his previous life is Chuni, his lamb.

Lamb is the only Ethiopian film to have ever been selected for the Cannes Film Festival, where it was included in the “Un Certain Regard” section. The film was also screened at the 2015 Toronto Film Festival and represented Ethiopia at the 88th Academy Awards in the Foreign Language Film category.

Following the screening of the film, Lamb director Yared Zeleke answered the audience’s questions via Skype. He spoke of the importance of the Ethiopian landscape in the film, which he described as “a character, a big part of who we [Ethiopians] are.” He also talked about his decision to have Ephraim be Jewish, to reinforce his identity of “other” – Ethiopia being a mostly Christian country – but also to convey a message of inclusiveness and religious tolerance. Ephraim, along with other characters, also challenges traditional gender roles – for instance, he loves to cook. “This was a very conscious choice on my part. In a way it is my vision for the country’s future, where things come down to personal choice,” Zeleke said.

The Ethiopian Film Festival is an attempt to expand the students’ horizons beyond the university campus, but also to host a series of events of general interest for the Roman community. The Ethiopian community in Rome is quite large, so it seemed like a perfect place to start,” said Communications Professor Kwame Phillips, one of the organizers of the event.

The final night of the Ethiopian Film Festival will be on Tuesday, March 28. Director Giulia Amati will present her 2016 film Shashamane and answer questions from the audience following the screening.