Ethiopia first night nerves after Cannes Film Festival success

The slab-like grey bulk of the Ethiopian National Theatre in central Addis Ababa could not be further removed from the sparkle and attention-grabbing headlines of the Cannes Film Festival.

Nevertheless, 37-year-old Yared Zeleke was still more nervous about being in the Ethiopian capital for the premiere of his film Lamb, which earlier this year became the first Ethiopian movie to be selected at Cannes.

“I did not sleep last night,” Mr Yared says, two hours before the premiere.

“You cannot get more prestigious a film festival than Cannes, but still it feels more important here—there is the power of home, the power of identity. This is part of who I am.”

Mr Yared says he was born and raised “in the slums of Addis Ababa” until, aged 10, he moved to the US, along with his family during Ethiopia’s communist dictatorship, the Derg – a time of upheaval across the country due to war and famine.

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