First show: June 02

A coming-of-age story that reveals a magical perspective on the myth of progress. A curious ten-year-old, Asalif, and his mother have been displaced from their farmland on the outskirts of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, by the construction of a condominium. As they watch the buildings take shape, the film exposes the hope and tension engulfing the country.

They defy the newly-built housing estate, which is like all the other ones springing up all over Ethiopia, and continue their life within the traditional village community: grazing their animals, tending their gardens, and picking fruit off the trees. Asalif’s hut lacks electricity, but the windows of the surrounding high-rises outshine the moon at night. Asalif scours the new city’s streets for electro-junk and builds a spaceship with an engine. His mother recounts ancient legends. Real estate developers buy up more land. Asalif feels increasingly threatened, stalked by the invisible hyena that haunts the area. With a sensitive grasp of her protagonist’s emotional reality, the documentary filmmaker Mo Scarpelli (Frame by Frame, SF IndieFest 2016) traces Asalif’s transformation into Anbessa, the lion.

Directed by Mo Scarpelli. USA, Italy. 85 mins. 2019.


SFDocFest: ANBESSA: Upcoming Showtimes