Spotlight: Three Ethiopian Titles at the 2022 New African Film Festival in Maryland

This year's New African Film Festival features three Ethiopian films including 'A Fire Within [ፍትህ],' the groundbreaking Ethiopian-American courtroom drama executive produced by Liya Kebede, as well as two new documentaries made in Ethiopia: 'Among Us Women' & 'Stand Up My Beauty.' (Photo: @AFireWithinDoc)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: March 9th, 2022

New York (TADIAS) — The U.S. debut of two recently released Ethiopian documentary movies and an historic Ethiopian-American courtroom drama are part of the lineup at the 2022 New African Film Festival, which is set to kick-off this month in Silver Spring, Maryland.

Organizers announced the “American premieres of powerful Ethiopian documentaries Among us Women and Stand Up My Beauty” in a press release highlighting this year’s program that promises to showcase “the vibrancy of African filmmaking from all corners of the continent and across the diaspora to the Washington, DC, area.”

The annual festival, which celebrates its 18th anniversary this year, takes place from March 18 to 31 at AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center in downtown Silver Spring.

The press release added: “This year’s fully in-person festival features 28 films from 17 countries, including five U.S. or North American premieres.”

The featured films include A Fire Within [ፍትህ], the groundbreaking Ethiopian-American courtroom drama executive produced by Liya Kebede and directed by acclaimed filmmaker Christopher Chambers. Organizers note that the screening of A Fire Within will feature a Q&A with Chambers.

Below are descriptions and trailers of the Ethiopian films courtesy of AFI Silver Theatre.


Special Features: Q&A with filmmaker Christopher Chambers following the March 20 screening


After suffering through the Red Terror, a dark time in Ethiopia’s history during which many educated young people were tortured and murdered, Edgegayehu “Edge” Taye fled to the United States in 1989 as a refugee. Settling in Atlanta, she found work at a hotel, only to discover that the very man who was responsible for her torture in Ethiopia was also working there. Along with several friends who were victims of the same man and are now all living in the U.S., Taye embarks on a landmark human rights case to bring their tormentor to trial. Executive produced by Ethiopian actress and activist Liya Kebede, this incredible and chilling true crime documentary shines a light on a painful time in Ethiopia’s history and reveals the healing power of restorative justice. Winner, Audience Award, Best Documentary, 2021 Atlanta, Naples and North Dakota Human Rights film festivals. DIR/SCR/PROD Christopher Chambers; PROD Ermias Woldeamlak. U.S./Canada/Ethiopia, 2021, color, 85 min. In English and Amharic with English subtitles. NOT RATED

No AFI Member passes accepted.

Run Time: 85 Minutes
Genre: Documentary
Opening Date: Sunday, March 20, 2022

U.S. Premiere


Sat, March 26, 12:25 p.m.; Wed, March 30, 7:00 p.m.

The first feature-length documentary by German director Sarah Noa Bozenhardt and Ethiopian filmmaker Daniel Abate Tilahun follows Hulu Endeshaw, a young Ethiopian farmer who is awaiting the birth of her fourth child and finds herself caught between the modern and traditional systems of midwifery in place in her rural village of Megendi. On one hand, she regularly attends checkups at the local health center, where staff are fighting high maternal mortality rates. On the other, Hulu is apprehensive of a system in which she feels unheard and turns to the traditional midwife Endal Gedif for support and comfort. Surrounded by many varying female perspectives, Hulu wrestles with the roles she is expected to play as a mother, a wife and a woman. To unravel her personal wants and needs, she takes the film’s narrative into her own hands, exploring her burning past and her uncertain future. Both because of her fellow women and despite them, Hulu holds onto the desire to define her own path, and gradually unveils the secrets she has kept close to her chest. In English and Amharic with English subtitles. NOT RATED


Special Features: North American Premiere

Nardos, an Azmari singer from Addis Ababa, dreams of telling stories about the lives of ordinary people through her music. In her search for stories for her songs, she meets Gennet, a poet who lives on the streets with her children. As Nardos puts the lives of Ethiopian women, their visions and power at the center of her creation, the documentary dives deeper and deeper into a rapidly changing country. (Note courtesy of Deckert Distribution.) Official Selection, 2021 Locarno Film Festival. DIR Heidi Specogna; PROD Heino Deckert, Rolf Schmid. Switzerland/Germany, 2021, color, 110 min. In Amharic with English subtitles. NOT RATED

Run Time: 110 Minutes
Genre: Documentary – music
Opening Date: Saturday, March 26, 2022

Learn more about the festival at

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