Alem Cinema Hosts 42nd Film Premiere
By Selam Geremew,Addis Fortune | October 3, 2006
On Thursday September 28, 2006, another Ethiopian film premiered at Alem Cinema located on Africa Avenue.
Directed by Yared GebreSilassie, Zema Hiwot, (“Musical Life”) is a two hour romantic tragedy based on the story of a young Ethiopian woman who faces challenge after challenge despite the kindness of her heart.
The tale begins in South Africa where the heroine, Helina, played by Messeret Mebrate, lives in a life of drug trafficking with a man she loves. She leaves her life of crime and comes to Addis Abeba to become an accomplished singer. But Helina is still not satisfied with her life and she ventures into a realm that she feels passionately for, but that brings her conflict.
This movie, with its twist of intrigue and humour; and elements of jealousy, treachery deceit and love had the crowd at Alem Cinema laughing, clucking and sighing, with a burst of applause erupting from the crowd at its conclusion.
“Ethiopian movies are really coming up,” said a 26 year-old sociologist present at the premiere. “It is amazing how movies have taken a turn for the better.”
According to the Art Coordination Group under the City Administration, 28 companies have asked for filming and film production licences in the past two years; four more have applied since this just started Ethiopian Year.
“This shows that the filming industry has been growing significantly in the past couple of years,” said Wessenhayl Tilahun, one of the coordinators of this Group.
Information from Alem, which is one of the leading cinemas in the country, shows that since its opening in 2003, the theatre has presented 42 Ethiopian films starting with Endurance, based on runner Haile GebreSelassie’s life and the first movie to be shown at Alem, all the way up to Zema Hiwot.
“We have a lot of films coming in, but we only present those movies that qualify to our standards,” said an Alem Cinema employee. “If the production is one we think suits our clientele’s interests, we show it.”
And interested the “clientele” certainly were Thursday night. Hours before the premiere, individuals were asking people making their way to the entrance for extra tickets for Zema Hiwot.
Although the movie had lighting and sound challenges, unnecessarily long scenes and a sometimes tedious storyline, the crowd seemed to respond quite well to the “bling” lifestyle of an ex-drug trafficker turned singer.
“It definitely is not Hollywood, but I can say that I prefer this to Bollywood,” a man coming out of Alem Cinema remarked after watching Zema Hiwot.
The film was produced by Master Films Production.