Cultural pride is and will always be on trend, but even more itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s whatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s right. Removing the typical Hollywood standards, such as an over-the-top urban character or ghetto baby mamas,Ã‚Â Yonie SolomonÃ‚Â decided to construct an indie, classic love story,Ã‚Â An Ethiopian Love,that salutes his heritage and has a universal relativity. Starring as the lead character, Desta, Yonie plays alongside rising on-screen talentÃ‚Â Helen Gedlu,Ã‚Â Augisha Tesfasilase,Ã‚Â Sara Gebremedhin,Jonathan WoldaubÃ‚Â andÃ‚Â Syed Bukhari.
From the trailer alone, this romantic comedy seems loaded with good-hearted humor, relationship drama and depth. While building great content on the back of guerilla marketing, rehearsals and the like was no easy task, Solomon was determined to send a message. Sure, the Ethiopian community will be able to directly identify with the film, but all first generation persons or immigrants of this country will see themselves in this feature that tips its hat to self-identity.
The cast is set to kickoff a screening tour in late April or early May, hitting major cities in the U.S. and several college campuses. Naturally, the international audience will get a chance to view it as well. VV tapped Solomon and GedluÃ¢â‚¬â€œboth first generation Ethiopian AmericansÃ¢â‚¬â€œfor an exclusive chat about pride, the filmÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s exploration of love and how they incorporated style to get the message across.Ã‚Â
What are the top common misconceptions about Ethiopia?
Helen:Ã‚Â What they show on TV, kind of making it seem like everyone in Africa is just poor and starving. ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s [only] part of it. They just make us look horrible on TV. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s frustrating because itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s like, wow, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not like that everywhere. I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know why they do it.
Yonie:Ã‚Â ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a huge one, in terms of being Ethiopian and living in America. It was crazy because that was one of the reasons why I wanted to do the movie. ThereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a central theme surrounding African immigrants, and that is that they come from this savage country, where ever theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re from, be it Ethiopia or West Africa or where ever, and that Africa, as a whole continent, has nothing to offer. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s crazy because I didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t go there until I was 12 [years old], so I was exposed to the same things growing up in society. I shared those same views, whether they were subconscious or conscious, even with my parents in my ear saying [Ethiopia] is beautiful. So thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the biggest one, by far. You mention Ethiopia, and itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s synonymous with starvation and political conflict. Not to say there isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t trouble there, but if you look at the numbers, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s like 80 million people in Ethiopia at this point, four million suffering from famine. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not something IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m trying to neglect putting out this type of movie, but what IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m trying to do is primarily empower Ethiopians, as well as abroad, in addition to kind of show a different side of Ethiopia to the world. Read Full Interview here.