What if the existing patriarchal society is replaced by a matriarchal system? What would happen? Would it have catastrophic results? These questions are the theme of the new comedy film titled “Mefenkle Setoch.”
Written by Temesgen Alemayehu and Zelalem Yitagesu, the film depicts a society where the “roles” of men and women are reversed.
The reality is that mostly women in the society are required to do household chores but in the film there is role reversal and men take over the household chores while women dominate the public life.
The characters represent men in bad situations, for example, Zikuni (Zerihun Asmamaw) who is a man is trapped by early marriage. Another character, Guanqual Asegid (Fekadu Kebede), is fed up with life because of the burden of the house chores and the verbal and physical abuse from his wife. His life is filled with fear and his silence is interpreted as an agreement for whatever she does.
To find relief from their pain and misery an office is established which fights for men’s rights; to have their dignity and be equal to women.
These men, who are tired of the continuous abuse and harassment, share their experiences and struggle breaking down in tears when they tell the representative of the so-called men’s right activist group.
Despite their pain the leader of the men’s rights group is fed up with the constant nagging of these men and he goes to a counsellor, played by the renowned Sibhat Gebregziabher to learn how to have sympathy for their cause.
“Since the dawn of mankind men have abused women. So in this film we wanted to show what the fate of men would be if women had the upper hand. This film will be a tool to show men their deeds,” Michael Leulseged, the producer and director of the film explains.
According to Michael, the film aims at showcasing what would happen if the “roles” were reversed in a sarcastic and metaphoric way. The film also deals with issues regarding the nature of God and human beings.
“The philosophy part might not be clear to everyone but we want people to question it. That’s why we included it in the film,” Michael explains.
For example, there is a funeral scene where men are seen wearing the traditional “netela” upside down as a sign of remorse while the women are playing cards.
“In reality, usually the reverse happens,” Michael states.
According to Michael, this complete radical transformation might cause mixed feelings among the community, it might not be welcomed by some people and vice versa.
The involvement of the renowned writer, Sibhat Gebregziabher, also became controversial even before the release of the film.
“Some people congratulated me because Sibhat took part in the film while others criticized me,” says Michael.
But for Michael, when he first read the script he was determined that this part should be played by Sibhat and luckily for them when they asked him to play this part he gladly accepted.
When the film was screened for the first time by professionals, as part of an evaluation, most of the comments were not pleasant, which forced them to re-edit it.
“All the comments I got were not positive and a lot of them centred on Sibhat’s part,” Michael states.
It is not only the comments he got, which were not positive, before the film release. There was also some controversy regarding the poster.
The picture on the poster depicts the comedians wearing boxer-shorts which were unacceptable for many people.
“Many people associated this film with an erotic type of film even before its release. They just look the poster in a glance and make their assumption,” Michael told The Reporter.
According to Michael, their trouser was taken from them because it is a metaphorical representation of power.
The film took seven months to produce at a cost of 700 thousand birr. The cast includes popular comedians like Dereje Haile, Yohannes Tefera, Zerihun Asmamaw, Wondwossen Birhanu and Mekonnen Laeke. “Mefenkle Setoch” will premiere tomorrow at Alem Cinema and across twenty other cinemas all over Ethiopia.