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Home » Anbessa



    Italy, USA / Color / 86' / 2019

    Ten-year-old Asalif and his mother have been displaced from their farmland on the outskirts of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, by the construction of a condominium. As they watch the buildings take shape, they are reminded in small and big ways that their country’s dream of “progress” is not for them. To fight back against those casting him out and those threatening his mother’s safety, Asalif taps into a fantasy of becoming his hero: the lion (“anbessa” in Amharic).

    Mo Scarpelli

    She is an Italian-American director and cinematographer of nonfiction cinema. Her first solo-directed documentary feature, "Anbessa", premiered at the Berlinale 2019 in Generation KPlus competition, and was nominated for the Glashütt Documentary Award. Her feature documentary "Frame by frame" (codirected with Alexandria Bombach) screened at SXSW 2015, Hot Docs (Audience Top Ten Films), BFI London Film Festival and 100+ other festivals, garnering 15+ jury and audience awards as well as a Cinema Eye Honors nomination. Mo is a selection of Berlinale Talents 2018, twice a recipient of Catapult Film Fund support and has received the Speranza Foundation Female Filmmaker Award.

    Cast & Crew

    • direction: Mo Scarpelli
    • Screenplay: Mo Scarpelli
    • Cinematography: Mo Scarpelli
    • Editing: Nico Leunen, Thomas Pooters
    • music: Erik K. Skodvin
    • Sound Design: Mo Scarpelli
    • Film Cast: Asalif Tewold, Alem Sebisibe Ayitenfsu, Kuckuyay, Kuba
    • producer:: Caitlin Mae Burke
    • original language:  Amharic


    • El hara (2016)
    • Frame by frame (2015)
    • Surviving Kensington (2012)