This doesn’t happen every year, and yet, 2015 is now the year that Ethiopia was represented in the official selection. Ethiopia by way of New York University Film, where filmmaker Yared Zeleke studied, among others, screenwriting under Todd Solondz. “Lamb,” which screened yesterday afternoon, is a tender and affecting film about a young boy and his goat. At least, that seems to be the point of departure. When Ephraïm is sent from his homeland to live with distant relatives he takes his pet sheep with him. When his uncle announces that he’ll have to sacrifice his sheep for the upcoming religious feast Ephraïm is ready to do anything to save his only friend. It would be a mistake to think that this plot makes the entire movie. It does not (far from it).With this film Zeleke actually provides us with a compelling commentary about today’s Ethiopia, which presumably is the same as the Ethiopia of yesterday. While people have enough to eat, food is a constant obsession. Ephraïm’s cousin has reached adolescence and seeks to affirm herself. Aided by a well-written screenplay Zeleke shows us her growing displeasure with her station in life. What comes next shouldn’t therefore come as a surprise.
“Lamb” is my pick for the Un Certain Regard prize. Hoping to see more Zeleke films in the future.