Israeli Film Center Festival 2019 Review: FIG TREE

By Mark Saldana

Rating: 3.5 (Out of 4 Stars)

This particular film from Ethiopian-Israeli director Aalam-Warqe Davidian tells a very desperate story of Jews in Ethiopia trying to escape persecution and civil war. The protagonist Mina (Betalehem Asmamawe), a 16 year-old young lady, and her family are attempting to illegally emigrate to Israel. Meanwhile, Mina’s Christian boyfriend Eli (Yohanes Muse) is also in great danger, as the country’s military has been abducting all young and able-bodied boys for forced service in the war. The rebellious Mina can’t bear to part with her first love; however, there is only so much she and her family can do to protect him and escape at the same time.

Writen and directed by Davidian, Fig Tree proves to be a powerful and very intimate examination of injustice and tragedy. Told through the sad and frightened eyes of young Mina, the film weighs even heavier on its audiences as one can only feel helplessly pulling and praying for a good outcome. As riveting a film it is, Fig Tree is only hindered by some inexplicably eratic editing at times. Nevertheless, I found myself quite captivated and moved by the problems faced by these characters who reflect real real people and events in 1989 Addis Ababa.

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