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Production Wraps On 'Oblivion' (Based On Case That Outlawed Marriage Abductions In Ethiopia)

by Tambay A. Obenson
December 11, 2012 10:46 AM
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Principal photography has wrapped as of yesterday, on writer/director Zeresenay Mehari's Oblivion - a feature length scripted film based on a true story about the legal-precedent-setting court case that outlawed the practice of abduction for marriage in Ethiopia – also referred to as "Telefa."

It's a project we first alerted you to earlier this year, while it was trying to raise funds to add to its then existing budget, so that the filmmakers could go into production. With 2/3 of a $375,000 budget raised, Oblivion began pre-production in Ethiopia, in June, with plans to shoot on 35mm film (a rarity these days, especially when it comes to indie filmmaking), thanks to support from a production package from Panavison CamerasPipeline Production, the Ministry of Culture Ethiopia, and others, including a successful Kickstarter campaign that raised almost $40,000 of that budget.

It tells the story of a 14-year old girl named Aberash Bekele who was accused of murder after killing the 29-year old man who raped, beat, and abducted her in an attempt to marry her.

Aberash was charged with murder and kept in prison without bail until a female lawyer named Meaza Ashenafi heard about the case and decided to represent Aberash. 

With immense odds against them, the 2 women fought a harrowing drawn-out legal battle over a two-year period that would eventually change the lives of Ethiopian women forever.

Here's a worth-reading production report posted on the project's website today:

The crew shot 6 days a week and on average 14 hrs a day. In front of the camera, we had 71 actors with speaking roles, 300 extras, and numerous horses, donkeys, and sheep. Our youngest actor was 7 months old and the eldest, in his mid-80s. We used trucks, cars, and animals to move our 3 tons of grip and electric gear as well as the three 35mm cameras that weighed over 2,000 pounds from one of our 37 actual locations to the other. Of note, Oblivion is the fourth film ever to shoot on 35mm film in Ethiopia. It is also the first to develop in Mumbai, India and the first Ethiopian film shot by a female DP. Last but not least, we were also the first Ethiopian film to have almost half of its crew comprised of women with most holding leadership roles. Thanks to everyone who has generously supported this project especially our most recent donors who made post-production possible. We can’t wait to finish the film and share it with all of you.

Sounds grand! Kudos on completion, and for all the "firsts." We're looking forwar to seeing the film when it's complete!

No ETA yet on when that will be, but I'm sure it'll be some time in 2013.

Watch a promo for the upcoming film below, which summarizes the grievous real-life story of Aberash:

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  • urbanauteur | December 11, 2012 3:22 PMReply

    Exquisite Film!

  • Justin W | December 11, 2012 11:06 AMReply

    Wow, this is my first time hearing about the film and that story in getting the movie made was inspirational. I will definitely be on the lookout for this film.

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