Director: Yared Zeleke
Writers: Yared Zeleke, Geraldine Bajard
Starring: Rediat Amare, Kidist Siyum, Welela Assefa, Surafel Teka
Synopsis: After Ephraïm (Amare) has to leave his home town ? sent to live with his relatives ? he has to protect his pet sheep after his uncle orders to be slaughtered and eaten for a holiday meal.
Ethiopian cinema and landscape is seldom seen by film fans, giving Lamb a greater profile for its singularity. It?s also uncommon to find a sheep as the animal of choice when it comes to pitching a boy-and-his-dog type of tale, further adding to Lamb?s uniqueness. The easiest comparison to make with Lamb is that of Brit classic, Kes, about the special bond between a boy and his pet. Ephraïm (the protaginst) is an outsider, slightly unruly and madly fond of his companion.
For a first time feature from director/writer Yared Zeleke, this film speaks volumes about Ethiopia as well as the universal relationship people have with animals. He?s working to explore a common topic, setting in the sweltering gorgeous Ethopian hills.
Joseé Deshaies? cinematography is stunning, often overshadowing every other facet of Lamb. Some environmental shots look like they?ve been picked out of a Terrence Malick or National Geographic film. Many transitions from scene include a picturesque frame to lead smoothly into a new moment. If you aren?t gripped by Lamb?s story, you can be assured that the cinematography will stay with you.
The Ethiopian society is less beautiful than its surroundings, as shown in a few incidences. Ephraïm is deserted by his father, beaten, bullied, and mocked by the men for his cooking abilities. The misogyny still reigns, apart from some elder women able to make orders. This archaic set-up is less admirable, but you have Ephraïm and his cousin Tsion to indicate change. Drama would clearly be lost without these issues, yet it challenges your gratification with the film.
If you want to read symbolically into things, Ephraïm?s lamb is an emotionless breed that follows wherever there is food and doesn?t show signs of complete affection. It represents the ?normal? culture, belonging in a group and working towards consumption. Ephraïm is trying to lead him in different directions, as well going against the norm of choosing it as a pet. You can either read it like this, or see the sheep as a mere MacGuffin to events unfolding. Whatever the case, Ephraïm?s behaviour is the thing to watch and reward. Rediat Amare is a new actor, and has a brilliant quietness to himself; enough to make you shift forward to look further into his eyes, or hear his words more clearly. His character is the new generation that is smartly rerouting standards (along with his cousin), and he makes it a rousing watch.
The performances and question of whether the sheep will or won?t be caught keep you attention. On the other hand, once it?s over it?s almost forgotten. There?s not much poignancy to the film on the whole, and after going through the journey it?s done and dusted, not to be thought over after. Despite this, Yared Zeleke does have a clear sense of direction, wedging his foot firmly in the door of the industry (providing his next feature leaves its audience with something to think over long after credits roll).
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