Shot on a budget of around $65 000 the new Ethiopian feature film The Last Dress launched on 20 May in Addis Abba.
Filmed in and around the Ethiopian capital between July and December last year The Last Dress was written by Leul Solomon and Tsegaye Yohanes, and directed by Solomon and Rediat Yaregal who also produces under his Addis Ababa-based production company Hanos Film Production.
The film is anchored on the premise that a new hope comes with every sunrise. It focuses on the challenges of HIV positive orphaned female children, traces their daily life and reveals what happens when they reach adolescence.
Says Yaregal: “The story also shows that while it is possible to prevent transmission of HIV from mother to child, there is not enough information available to drive prevention. However, the social work sector is doing great work by giving assistance to HIV positive orphaned children so that they can visualise their future and live with an optimistic attitude.’
The idea for the film came after the Ethiopian Prime Minister addressed a women’s conference in March 2009. One of the HIV-positive attendees asked the question: “We have female children in our orphanage who are born with HIV. When they reach adolescence they start dating boys and going to night clubs and more. How can we address this challenge?’
Popular stage actor Feleke Abebe plays the lead role in The Last Dress and has starred in feature films The Foot Print, Heroshima, Yemist Yaleh and Hindeke among others.
Co-starring are Azeb Worku, a well-known film writer who has acted in various films such as The 8 Women and Mehalet Shumete, who has appeared in more than five feature films including Surprise, Diplomat and Yewendoch Guday. New to film but with bright futures are actresses Seble Worku and Tsegenet Tafese.
Yaregal notes that challenges during the shoot included finding suitable locations especially for the orphanage. The film’s story revolves around this location and the crew had to settle for a camp used by the employees of a local sugar factory.
The Last Dress, which will be distributed on DVD, is Hanos Film Production’s first feature film. Previously the company produced two documentaries that were awarded at the 4th and the 5th Ethiopian International Film Festivals.
Screen Africa magazine – July 2012