Synopsis: Available May 30th Only!
Ten-year-old Asalif and his mother have been displaced from their Ethiopian farmland by the construction of a condominium. Now living on the divide between a new and ancient world, they are reminded that their country’s big dream of “progress” is not for them. Land developers come knocking, and Asalif feels his mother’s fear of further displacement. On the other side, ferocious hyenas lurk in a dark forest, and local farmers speak their lore. To fight back against all that threatens his family, Asalif transforms into a lion (“anbessa” in Amharic). His newfound power takes him to places he never imagined until finally, Asalif must find the strength that resides in him as a boy, in order to deal with the tides of change and violence that are usurping his family, his country, and his own identity.
In 2015, I started roaming around an unfinished condominium complex on the outskirts of Addis Ababa. I was curious for perspective on how a rapid development scheme was playing out on an individual level, especially in a culture so historically resistant to outside influence. On the edge of miles of these empty uniform buildings outside Addis, I met a boy who was – in his own ways – confronting “progress” as it steamrolled his world. … This is what this ten-year-old protagonist does in his daily life: he spins elaborate stories in order to deal with the intense forces of change and domination that are threatening him and his mother. With time and care, he granted me intimate access to his world and that of his neighbors to really dig into how modernity conflicts human identity and coming of age.