The Anglo-Ethiopian Society

Film Review - Horizon Beautiful

Stefan Jäger (Director)

Reviewer - Veronika Six


I would like to draw the readers' attention to the film Horizon Beautiful. This film, directed by Stefan Jäger, was shot in 2012 in Switzerland as well as in Ethiopia. The film, which lasts approximately ninety minutes, is in Amharic and English.

The story of how the film came into being is extraordinary. In 2011 the Swiss director Stefan Jäger, through the mediation and support of the Swiss Embassy and the Goethe Institute, was invited to teach at the Blue Nile Film and Television Academy in Addis Ababa. Founded in 2009, by cinematographer Abraham Haile Biru, the Blue Nile Film and Television Academy is a pioneering institution of its kind in Ethiopia.

The screenplay for the film was developed together with the students during Stefan Jäger's (Switzerland) and Oliver Keidel's (Germany) short stay in Addis Ababa. The shooting was done entirely in Addis Ababa, around the Mercato area, and just outside the city, for the countryside scenes. Given that the film was shot in only two months, and with a small budget, it is amazing that the result is a compelling and fascinating feature-length film, produced by Ethiopian students under the guidance of professionals.

A short summary of the beginning of the film will surely spark your interest. A Swiss manager, Franz Arnold, who works for the international football association FIFA, is eager to improve the sport's image in Ethiopia with some public relation events. A young street boy, Admassu, who is dreaming of becoming the best football player in Ethiopia, gets to know about the arrival of Franz Arnold from Switzerland and wants to meet him to get a chance in the European football centres for young players. But he does not even get close to Franz who stays at the Hilton and is protected by bodyguards. Angry about this, he has the idea together with some other young men to kidnap Franz. The kidnapping is successful, but Admassu's real goal was to become Franz's liberator, in order to gain his support. Franz and Adamassu end up having to walk through the Ethiopian highlands, and the child becomes the protector of the European.

I do not want to reveal the whole story, in case you decide to see the movie. I would like to recommend this film, which was initially produced for children, and so, at the moment, is only screened in the children's section at film festivals. I should emphasize that the story, the acting, and the setting are all charming and, in a way, cheerfully instructive, particularly for those of you who have been to Ethiopia. You will be overwhelmed by the scenery, the wit and wisdom of the story, and, most of all, by the acting skills of Henok Tadele, who plays the 12 year old street child Adamassu, and who really was a street kid when the casting took place! Fortunately, the film crew took care of him, and he now gets a regular education. He wants to become a singer (the last song in the film is performed by Henok). Excepting Franz, and a small number of other characters, the actors are non-professionals, but you could not tell!

Unfortunately, at present, there is no distributor for the film. Some of the dialogue is in Amharic, and currently it is not subtitled. Regardless the film offers great entertainment! You should not miss it if you get a chance to see it. The trailer, and a lot of information on the film, can be found on the film's website at: www.horizonbeautiful.ch.


First Published in News File Spring 2014

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