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Anbessa (2019)

The simple life in his mother's hut off the grid set against the huge TVs in the apartment blocks where the other children live. Asalif adapts to the changes to his familiar surroundings with growing autonomy. He becomes Anbessa, the lion.


Mo Scarpelli


Mo Scarpelli
3 wins & 10 nominations. See more awards »




Credited cast:
Asalif Tewold Asalif Tewold
Alem Sebisibe Ayitenfsu Alem Sebisibe Ayitenfsu
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Abinet Abinet
Aster Biruk Aderi Aster Biruk Aderi
Birtukan Biruk Aderi Birtukan Biruk Aderi
Biruk Aderi Biruk Aderi
Fikadu Biruk Aderi Fikadu Biruk Aderi
Tigist Biruk Aderi Tigist Biruk Aderi
Tsehay Biruk Aderi Tsehay Biruk Aderi
Meseret Dechasa Meseret Dechasa
Getnet Getnet
Soloman Girma Soloman Girma
Kuba Kuba
Misgan Assefa Lulie Misgan Assefa Lulie
Teshome Seifu Teshome Seifu
Learn more

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Through a coming-of-age story, ANBESSA captures one boy taking on modernization on his own terms, revealing a unique and magical perspective on the myth of "progress" that entraps us all. Ten-year-old Asalif and his mother have been displaced from their farmland on the outskirts of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, by the construction of a condominium. As they watch the buildings take shape, they are reminded in small and big ways that their country's dream of "progress" is not for them. To fight back against those casting him out and those threatening his mother's safety, Asalif taps into a fantasy of becoming his hero: the lion ("anbessa" in Amharic). Asalif uses his imagination to battle forces beyond his control. His newfound power and fantasy take him to places he never imagined inside and out of the condo until finally, Asalif must find the strength that resides in him as a boy, and shed the lion persona, in order to deal with the tides of change and violence that are usurping a community,...

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Documentary | Drama

User Reviews

A Glimps into the life of the down trodden through the eyes on an exceptional kid
14 November 2019 | by aelroySee all my reviews

Very well shot camera variete style Documentary. It is very sensitive to the pitfalls of superimposing the filmmakers' view point over that of the subject characters common to this documentary style. It avoids such bias well and should be commaded for this.

The film captures the reality of the population that is left behind and pushed around in Ethiopian society

The film juxtapositions the bleak existance of an exceptionally bright and outgoing child and his single mother living in a mus hur just outside so called condo development, with neighbors in these developments, who are just slightly better off but still a world apart.

The best of variete documentaries!

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Official Sites:

film website


Italy | Ethiopia | USA



Release Date:

9 May 2019 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Anbessa - Löwe See more »

Filming Locations:

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Company Credits

Production Co:

Rake Films See more »
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Technical Specs



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