The first ever Ethiopian film to be selected for Cannes, Lamb is the sweet tale of young Ephraim and his sheep, Chuli. After his mother’s death, Ephraim’s father takes him to stay with relatives while he seeks out work in the city. Ephraim is a gentle boy, who favours cooking more than farm work (much to his uncle’s annoyance) and is horrified to find out that the family plan to slaughter Chuli for an upcoming feast. There’s only one solution: to escape with Chuli and head back home.
A beautiful coming of age drama, Lamb is the stunning directorial debut of Yared Zeleke, touching on themes of loss and tradition. Shot against the backdrop of Ethiopia’s gorgeous landscape, it is lovingly crafted, with a strong performance from Rediat Amare as Ephraim. The film is hopeful – unflinching in its portrayal of hardship, yet soft and comforting at the same time.
Outside of Ephraim’s deep bond with his sheep, the film is mostly concerned with the changing nature of Ethiopian traditions, of their rigid expectations of boys and girls, men and women. Ephraim is bullied by his uncle and the boys in town because of his cooking skills; even his father dismisses it as women’s work, even when it could save them from starvation. On the other side of things is Ephraim’s cousin, Tsion, who reads the newspaper and dreams of one day going to university despite her stepmother’s insistence that she marry. More importantly though, those who uphold these traditions are not made out to be villains, only desperate people, clinging to the life they’ve always known.
Clearly a labour of love and hopefully a sign of more good things to come from Zeleke, it’s no wonder Lamb has drummed up so much attention.
Lamb does not have a UK release date yet.