Friday, February 13, 2015

PAFF.ORG - Triangle: Going to America

Director and Producer, Theodros Teshome Kedebe,
Ja'net DuBoisCo-Founder, Pan African Film Festival,
and the cast of the Centerpiece film, Triangle: Going to America
The Honorable Consul General, Ambassador Zerihun Reta,
Director & Producer of the film, Triangle: Going to America -
Theodros Teshome Kedebe
Triangle: Going to America, made its world premier last night as the Centerpiece film at the 23rd annual Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles

The film was written
and directed by Ethiopian filmmaker, Theodros Teshome Kedebe 

The beautiful cast donned the red carpet in their finest Ethiopian garments and grace.

This feature film takes us on a journey wrought with grief and peril through the deserts of Ethiopia

East and North Africa, Italy, Mexico and the United States.

Cast members of the fim,Triangle: Coming to Americagathered in a circle celebrating the world premiere  of their fabulous film. They're doing a traditional Ethiopian dance at the after party.
This thought provoking film addresses several controversial issues.

On this journey women do not play the traditional gender roles of Ethiopian and Eritrean women. 
One female character tells her fianc√©, "The only difference between men and women these days are the signs on the restroom doors." The film also deals with the sexual victimization that travelers frequently endure when trying to cross borders at the hands of the smugglers; the ones who have been paid handsomely to guide and protect them.  Financial exploitation is another common thread in the film. Even after the travelers are forced to spend money after paying multiple times to multiple people, they are threatened at gun point even when they have absolutely nothing left to give or refuse to pay again.

This is an important film as it broadens the discussion of illegal immigration beyond the assumption that all people who cross the U.S./Mexico border illegally are Hispanic.

This film exhibits not only the route that many Africans take to enter the United States without documentation, but also the range of reasons why people would leave Africa and risk a precarious trek through more than 10,000 miles of life and death situations and countless treacherous handlers to get to the United States.

What I loved most was that this was a very intelligent film. The comedy was edgy and witty, the dialogue was sharp and each outcome was unpredictable. The characters had an undeniable chemistry which produced scenes that made you laugh along with them, cry along with them,  fear and cheer along with them. There was a gut wrenching scene of grief that made the audience grown and forced me reach for my Kleenex. The actors were brilliant in making us care deeply about each and every traveler. The main characters were warm, lovable, resilient and strong and the excellent performances by the actors made the emotion in the scenes tangible.
Though the 2 scenes where nature pounded the travelers had CG that was so bad that it was distracting at best; I could not be mad at the filmmaker. 

Kedebe did a heck of a lot more with the incredibly low budget of $350,000 than anyone can possibly imagine. Kedebe got the idea for this film after a chance encounter with an old friend from Ethiopia for the first time in the United States. After this friend told him a ten minute version of this nightmare of a journey, Kedebe knew that this had to be a manifested into a feature film. Three years later,  Triangle: Going to America had its world premiere. Kedebe got the title for this film when thinking about the triangular layout of the transatlantic slave trade established 500 years ago. Kedebe made this film as an admonition to his countrymen to not risk their lives journeying through hell to get to a place where they will discover that they have only sold themselves into a new kind of slavery when they encounter the degradation and exploitation that stems from braving the Triangle to get to the United States.

Yougnesse Williams
Photography by Yougnesse Williams

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