Fig Tree

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Ethiopia | 2018 | 90 minutes | Aäläm-Wärqe Davidian

In the midst of the Ethiopian Civil War, a 16-year-old Jewish girl attempts to save her Christian boyfriend from being drafted into the army just as her family is set to escape to Israel.

16-year-old Mina (Betalehem Asmamawe in her first film role) has known nothing but the Ethiopian Civil War. Living with her brother and grandmother, her Jewish family is planning to leave for Israel, where her mother already awaits. But Mina has fallen for Eli, her Christian boyfriend, who has escaped into the woods to avoid the mandatory draft-abduction of Mengistu Haile Mariam's army. Mina devises a strategy to save Eli, but those plans are not going well. Fig Tree is a semi-autobiographical film based on first-time director Aalam-Warqe Davidian's experience fleeing her homeland at age 11. Her story focuses, much like Mina, on the moment, assuming that there is nothing in the world but spending time with Eli. When violence erupts, the film's urgency bubbles over with a tension that is very potent. Davidian's film feels lived-in, largely because of its attention to the little details of her own experience, while also providing a rare document of the way civil war impacts the everyday lives of people. On the surface this is a simple coming-of-age tale, but Davidian's grasp of drama is assured in its ability to weave a level of complexity that speaks beyond Mina's experience.

Dustin Kaspar

Director Biography
Aäläm-Wärqe Davidian, commonly known as Alamork Davidian in English, is an Ethiopian-Israeli film director born in Ethiopia in 1980. She studied her craft at the Sam Spiegel Film & Television School in Jerusalem before working as a researcher for Ada Ushpiz, a noted documentary filmmaker. Her directorial debut, Fig Tree (2018), takes place toward the end of the Ethiopian Civil War, and is partially based on her own childhood in Addis Ababa prior to emigrating to Israel. She is married to film director and producer Kobi Davidian.

Sponsored by African Studies Studies Program at UW, Katherine and David DeBruyn, KING 5

  • Original Language Title: Etz Te'ena
  • Director: Aäläm-Wärqe Davidian
  • Principal Cast: Betalehem Asmamawe, Yohanes Muse, Weyenshiet Belachew, Mareta Getachew, Mitiku Haylu
  • Country: Ethiopia, Israel, Germany, France
  • Year: 2018
  • Running Time: 90 minutes
  • Producer: Saar Yogev, Naomi Levari, Felix Eisele, Sandrine Brauer
  • Screenplay: Aäläm-Wärqe Davidian
  • Cinematographers: Daniel Miller
  • Editors: Arik Lahav Leibovich
  • Music: John Gurtler, Jan Miserre
  • Website: Official Film Website
  • Awards: Ophir Awards 2018 (Best Cinematography)
  • Filmography: Debut Feature Film
  • Language: Amharic
  • Has Subtitles: Yes
  • Format: DCP
  • US Distributor: Menemsha Films
  • International Sales: Films Boutique