A young Muslim woman's appetite for coffee, Islam and a good game of badminton. When Oromo Ethiopian Abeba Mohammed moves to suburban Mt Albert, she has nothing but her faith in Allah, a taste for Ethiopian coffee, and a zest for life to sustain her. From behind her purdah, and no knowledge of English, Abeba struggles to make a connection with the people of her new homeland. —Venice Film Festival
Coffee and Badminton
I recently saw this at the 2008 Palm Springs International Short Fest. This is the story of Abeba (Zahara Abbawaaaji) a new Muslim Ethiopian émigré to New Zealand who is left alone at her sister's suburban home for a few days. She is a practicing Muslim and wears a purdah with only her eyes and nose exposed to view. She frequents a local trendy modern coffee shop but not for a cup of coffee. She prefers to buy unroasted raw coffee beans and believes that in roasting, grinding and brewing them yourself the finished cup of coffee is a gift from Allah. Hesitant of interacting with the locals and mindful that they may not want to interact with her because she is foreign and a Muslim she stays home watching English language television that she can't understand and discovers she has a natural talent for the game of badminton. She also finds that people do want to know her. Directed by Sima Urale, a graduate of the New Zealand Drama School and Victorian College of the Arts Film and Television School of Australia. This only the third short from Urale in an 11 year span which I find strange considering her other two Still Life and Tamaitio were critically acclaimed award winners. She has also done a documentary and several music videos but no feature films as of yet. Dr. Shuchi Kothari is the film's writer. Abbawaaaji is not a professional actress and comes form the Aukland Ethiopian immigrant community. There is very little dialog or subtitles in this film and what dialog there is is in mostly English. Also in the cast are Joe Folau as Nonu, Jared Turner as the store manager and John Mellor as Roger. There is not much to this film but it charming and thoughtful and whimsical and looks great on the screen. If your looking for something a little different I would recommend it and give it a 8.0 out of 10.
- Aug 30, 2008
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