By Seble Teweldebirhan
Addis Ababa, June 29, 2011 (Ezega.com) - The 5th Addis International Film Festival concluded on Monday at Sebastopol Cinema. The festival ran from June 23-26 and exhibited around 140 documentary and short films from all over the world. The films were presented at Sebastopol Cinema, British Council, Alliance Ethio-Francaise and five Sub City youth centers in Addis Ababa. Films were shown from Mexico, France, US, Germany, Canada, Australia, Cameroon, Mali, Kenya and Thailand, among others.
The much anticipated closing ceremony of the festival at Sebastopol Cinema presented two short films: “Lijochu” or the “Kids” by Ethiopian director, Yohannes Feleke, and Destino: A Contemporery Dance Story by UK director, Caswell Coggings.
The short film ‘Lijochu’ by Yohannes Feleke is a 15-minutes play inspired by true events that showed the difficulty children in Ethiopia face at a young age to play sports. In the film, the kids who desperately wanted to have a football uniform so that they can play against another team stole and sold another person’s donkey in order to buy the uniform. This is because their family couldn’t afford the uniform or didn’t think it was important for them. The film indicates the reason why our country fails in group sport activities, especially football at the international level.
The second documentary by Caswell Coggings demonstrated the power of dance to change lives in society. The film is based on two Ethiopian young dancers whose career changed their life and inspired different generations both in London and Addis Ababa.
The clothing ceremony was somehow substandard, especially for the international participants who expected a more formal and standardized ritual. Sebastopol Cinema hall were in no position to host such an event with so many international film makers. By being too small, the hall was unable to create conducive environment for the audience. There was also a problem in its sound system. The problem became worse especially due to the heavy rain that fell, which was hitting the non-sound proof roof of the hall, making it difficult for the audience to hear the soundtrack, which in turn disappointed the film makers.
In addition, the ceremony appeared disorganized and the host, Ketsela Seifu, who is also the Program Manager of Addis International Film Festival, did not introduce the film makers properly. She sounded like she has no idea who the film makers are while they were sitting in the audience waiting to be credited for their work. The end, and probably the most important part of the festival, the announcement of the competition of the films and film makers who presented their work at the festival appears to have been the let-down of the night.
Then the jury declared the winners in the Best Documentary and Best Social Drama Documentary categories. There was also Best Audience Award, but it was not clear how the audience participated and who won this award. In the Best Documentary Award category, LastTrain Home directed by Lixin Fan was named the winner. The Best Social Drama went to Mrs. Goundou's Daughter directed by Barbara Attie and Janet Goldwaterand, and the Best Audience Award was announced on the festivals website to be Cultures of Resistance directed by Iara Lee.
Except for the mention, there was no award or recognition of any kind given to the winners.
The executive producer of Lijochu, Mulugeta Alem, told Ezega.com that the festival is below standard and this is not good for Ethiopia’s image since the participants came from all over the world. “At least it was possible to make the clothing ceremony interesting. Most of the film makers were disappointed because they came here on their own cost expecting to get a chance to screen their film with a standard they are used to.” He said.
The Addis International Film Festival is held annually in Addis Ababa. The festival is organized by Initiative Africa and it’s considered to be the largest independent documentary cinema festival in Africa.
Seble Teweldebirhan is Addis Ababa based Reporter for Ezega.com. She can be reached by sending email through this form.