June 3, 2015

Ama Ampadu, producer of the film “Lamb”, presented at 2015 Cannes Film Festival

In order to support the African film industry 600.000€ have been invested in Ethiopia and the impact on the filmmaking sector’s economy has been huge.

Produced by Slum Kid Films – an Ethiopian-based company that Ghanaian Ama Ampadu co-founded with the director Yared Zeleke, whose works to support the country’s film sector –Lamb which has been selected to screen in the Un Certain regard section of the 2015 Cannes Film festival. This section is aimed to highlight daring, innovative, off-beat works, and Zeleke’s film certainly fits the bill.

How has the film been received at the Cannes Film Festival?

The screening went incredibly well, it was great. We were very lucky as we received a strong media coverage. We hired press attachés for the French and International press, who did a very good job. The film got excellent reviews. The movie unveils a little piece of heaven in the Horn of Africa.  Ethiopia’s image has been tarnished and the country is sadly ingrained in the world’s collective memory as connected to famine. Lamb speaks of the country delicately and subtly – avoiding clichés – so as to enable a nuanced understanding of its complexities and contradictions. It is not all misery at all. Life can be a struggle, but it is also filled with love, laughter and humour, like anywhere else.

When will be the first release of the movie?

We are planning to release the movie in France on September 30, followed by the German, Ethiopian and other releases.

Do you know if the film has been sold to other territories?

Our sales agent, Films Distribution, did an excellent job. In Cannes, the film was sold to Denmark, Mexico, Taiwan, Turkey, South Asia, amongst others. We already had French, German, and Swiss distribution before Cannes. The company is still negotiating with other territories as well.

How did you get involved in the development of the movie?

I already knew Yared Zeleké and I really appreciated his first short films. When I first read the initial script, I realised that it was the right one for a feature. I started searching for a solid partner and we managed to find Gloria Films Production, followed by the world sales agent, Films Distribution and the French distributor Haut et Court. I managed the project in every step: financing, development of the script, casting, crew, locations, shooting and also  post-production.

Why did you open a company in Ethiopia?

This film is an important step in order to build a strong cinema and audio-visual sector in Ethiopia. I set up a company in Ethiopia mainly to work on Yared’s film and on but also to work with local young people. We got young professionals involved from the very beginning: actors, technicians and line producers. I would state that now Ethiopia is about to be ready to receive the attention of more international producers.

Did you receive financing from Ethiopia?

We received a big sponsorship from Ethiopia Airlines. All the international and local tickets for the cast were for free. We also did not pay for the transportation of equipment back and forth to Europe, and within the country. We probably would not have delivered the film on time without this generous support.

Do you think the movie will change the priorities of Ethiopian Government towards the cultural sector?

The Ethiopian authorities realised the importance of the audio-visual sector for the country. The Ministry of Culture understood the importance that images shown by a movie have in order to promote Ethiopian culture on a large scale. The authorities will be enthusiastic to fund and help the production of new films.

Can you measure the impact of the film on the country?

The impact has been huge. We auditioned over 6000 people for roles and trained hundreds during our acting workshops. Furthermore we trained light and sound technicians, production assistants, costumes assistants and line producers, all coming from Ethiopia. All these professionals now know how an international film works.

We contributed to the growth of Ethiopian economy spending a lot of money in the country, not only on the actors, but also on hotels, travels and catering.

We also want to thank the ACPCultures+ programme, without their support the realization of the film would not have been possible. There are very few ways to finance these kinds of projects in the ACP countries. We do need an institution like the ACP Secretariat to support culture in the region. 

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