These 5 best Ethiopian drama films come up as a flower that struggles to blossom under concrete. The film industry in Ethiopia is seriously underfunded, unequipped and rarely trained. However, the driving need to create art, to question and examine tough issues still shines through in the Ethiopian film industry. Ethiopia has still managed to put out award winning films by visionary directors as you will see with these five best Ethiopian drama films.
1. “Teza” is one of the best Ethiopian drama films directed by Haile Gerima. The film takes place in the 1970’s while Ethiopia is under a Marxist regime. A young post graduate is returning from W. Germany. He stumbles across a murder, and ends up the enemy of some revolutionaries. He eventually manages an escape back to W. Germany where he spends the rest of his life until the fall of Communism. It was an award winner at the PanAfrican Film and Television Festival.
2. “The Father” has won awards throughout Africa by showing the “Red Terror” that took place in Ethiopia more than 30 years ago. It is directed by Ermias Woldeamlack, and it deals with the horror of a time that most Ethiopians have not addressed.
3. “Tumult” was entirely funded by grants from the American Film Institute and The National Endowment for the Arts. It takes place in the 1960’s, and follows a failed coup d’etat against Emperor Haile Selassie. Yoseph is the main character, and is going to try to bring Western style government to Ethiopia by overthrowing Selassie.
4. “Blood is not Fresh Water” is directed by Theo Eshetu. It is told from the perspective of the director’s grandfather, a noted historian. It examines Ethiopia’s origins while the story timeline travels backwards. It goes from present day Ethiopia, to its colonial times, and even further to “Lucy”.
5. “Dead Weight” deals with the diaspora of the “Red Terror” after Emperor Selassie was deposed. It’s directed by Yemane Demissie. It covers the aspect of these times from the viewpoint of the Ethiopian diaspora. The ones who fled, mostly to America, to escape the horrors. What is interesting is the way these characters are still confronted with their past. Several characters run into their previous jailors and torturers now living in the U.S.