DER Documentary

Asmara, Eritrea

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by Caterina Borelli
color, 63 min, 2008
in Tigrynia, Italian and English
with English subtitles


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Asmara - capitol of the East African nation of Eritrea - is recognized as an architectural gem. In this film Asmarinos from different walks of life guide us through the streets of their city and bring us to places of their choice. In doing so, and by talking about 'their own' Asmara, each person locates personal memories in public spaces investing the urban environment with individual meanings. Through their narrations - a chorus of different experiences embodying the nation - the country's history from colonialism to independence comes to life.

"Asmara should serve as a model in documenting African cities. Through interviews with local residents, the filmmaker is able to imbue the built environment with life, to evoke the feel of the street and the interrelationship of neighborhoods.

In particular, the film excels at unpacking a particularly complex 20th century history, which awakens viewers to complex geopolitical forces sparring over the horn of Africa even as it traces the development of a gracious and liveable city." — Z. S. Strother, Riggio Professor of African Art, Columbia University, author of Inventing Masks: Agency and History in the Art of the Central Pende

Related Resources
Film site
Review by Thomas Stevenson for Anthropology Review Database.

Film Festivals, Screenings, Awards
"Ownership and Appropriation" Conference, University of Auckland, New Zealand, 2008
Muestra de Cine Documental y Etnografico, Puerto Rico, 2009
Association of Social Anthropology UK Conference, Bristol, 2009
International Festival of Archaeological Film, Italy, 2009
Architecture Film Festival, Rotterdam, The Netherlands, 2009
Days of Ethnographic Film, Moscow, 2009
Visual Africa Series, Museum of African Art, New York, NY, 2010

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