Awra Amba (2009) 

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Paulina Tervo

They harness education, equal rights for women and men and a strong work ethic. They believe there is a way out of poverty, hunger and inequality, simply by working hard, reversing traditional values and getting rid of lengthy religious practices. ‘They’ are Awra Amba, a remarkable, home-grown rural community in the Amhara Region in Northern Ethiopia. Theirs is a story of belief in a better, more equal world where humans don’t have to suffer, but live in peace and harmony.

Paulina Tervo

Paulina Tervo is a London-based Finnish filmmaker and Director of Write This Down Productions. She has a track record in making visually attractive, powerful stories about people and real life in places that often get bad press. Her films have been seen in international festivals, television, on the web as well as used for advocacy and learning purposes. She is currently developing several multi-platform projects that raise awareness of development, community sharing, women’s empowerment and media stereotypes. She has an academic background in both documentary film and international development.

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on October 05, 2011 at 7:03am

"Awra Amba," a town in Northern Ethiopia, has its foundations via the simple questions of (now elder) Zumra, when still a boy. He watched his Father & Mother return from their dawn to dusk jobs in the fields each day, only to ask why his Father's workday was finished, his Mother's had just begun.
Why was it HER job to now care for their children? Why was it HERS to prepare the meal for their family... to wash her husband's (Zumra's Father's) feet, while hers must be equally, if not more tired?
Earning the reputation as a "crazy", at an early age, Zumra left to start the village of "Awra Amba". At "Awra Amba," a woman trying to earn her right to join the community explains (one must "clear oneself of evil ways" before one is accepted & the woman "likes to drink," she matter-of-factly explains) a "woman does a man's work and a man, the work of a woman," for all are given a job one is best suited for.
One particular outstanding discussion takes place when some Muslims confront Zumra as to why there are no churches/mosques/temples in Awra Amba. "Because we do not confine our God to a building -- our God is EVERYWHERE," Zumra patiently explains.
These Muslims are not the only vistors to the village however. Students & farmers; politicians, scientists, sociologists-- all, at one point or another, come to visit &/or study the "social experiment" of Awra Amba.
Awra Amba is not "perfect", but actively trying to be.
The movie is a fascinating glimpse of a place few, if any, have heard of -- at least in the western world -- yet "modern society" can learn much from it. (@ sev'l pts in the movie, I was struck by the "coincidences?" that Ethiopia is not only where the (supposed) "Ark of the Covenant" is purportedly being protected, but the famous stone tablet given the "Black Race" by 1 of the two Great Brother's of the Hopi (either in Ethiopia or at the base of Mt Kenya of the Kikuyu Tribe).
Awra Amba will leave you with more questions than answers; more possibilities than certainties not of how things MUST be but ways they *can*. This is truly a marvelous little (29 minute) film about an even more marvellous People & culture


on December 16, 2010 at 12:26am

Thank you for letting us know about this place! It gives a lot of hope for the world.

We'd like to show this film at a small non-profit sustainability film festival in the beginning of next year if possible.


Cristina & Ben