Ephraim lives in the Ethiopian countryside with his father and looks after his beloved pet sheep Chuni. The family has few resources, and see themselves forced to move to another part of the country when Ephraim's mother dies. Ephraim's father goes off to find work in Addis Abeba and the boy is left to live with distant relatives. The latter are sceptical to the boy's arrival: in these harsh times, he represents an extra mouth to feed. He is also not much help out in the fields, and prefers the more feminine task of cooking meals, which he has learned from his mother. Most of all, they have their eyes set of Ephraims rather well fed sheep and look forward to a good meat-based dish at the upcoming religious feast. Ephraim will have to use all of his resourcefulness in order to not lose his precious pet.
Lamb sports strong performances by lead actors, with a series of strong and nuanced female roles: the older matriarch who sits on her throne inside the family hut and deals out punishment with a whip; the aunt who, despite being sympathetic to Ephraim, has her own sick child to look after; and the older girl who would rather read the paper than consider marrying.
Lamb shows aspects of Ethiopia rarely seen on the silver screen, providing a multilayered "slice of life". Ephraim wanders through beautifully photographed rolling green mountainous landscapes and lush forests, contrasting nicely with the darker, more claustrophobic interiors of the family hut and the bustling neighboring market place.
The film subtly underlines current economic and sociopolitical issues in Ethiopia, without relying on clichés. A visually pleasing, warm and intelligent coming-of-age drama that displays the richness and complexity of Ethiopian culture
This text is from the Films from the South Festival, where the film had its Scandinavian Premiere.
"Yared Zeleke’s sharp eye for the culture of his homeland is showcased in this tremendous ethnographic debut"
"It’s a delicately satisfying drama with coming-of-age elements, deeply sympathetic to its characters and very much attuned to the landscape around them"
Director Yared Zeleke
Producer Laurent Lavolé, Ama Ampadu & Johannes Rexin
Production Company Slum Kid Films
Norwegian co-producer Film Farms
Norwegian co-production company Alan R. Milligan
Runtime 1h 34m