Sponsored Project

Awra Amba's (E)utopia - Salem Mekuria

Awra Amba

Filmmaker: Salem Mekuria
Status: In Production

I am raising funds to complete shooting the documentary, Awra Amba’s (E)utopia (WT). The
film will tell the story of how a little village called Awra Amba in Northern Ethiopia gave birth
to a uniquely indigenous ‘utopian’ society in 1972 and is thriving fifty years on.

When I first arrived in Awra Amba, what I saw was the usual dusty, small village. But I soon
discovered that it was far from typical. Unlike similar villages in Ethiopia, it had a pre-school, a
library, elementary and middle schools, a museum, an elderly home, a health center, and two
grain milling centers, services for which most other villagers hiked several kilometers.

The story will be based on research into their beginnings, interviews with the founding members
some of whom are still alive, and the succeeding generations who have now achieved college
and post graduate education. Re-tracing the older generation’s journey through these fifty years,
the film will connect their stories to the present through the eyes and perspectives of the new
generation as they take on the mantle to advance the principles and values of Awra Amba.

I have been documenting the story of this community since 2014. Filming was suspended 2020-
2022 because of the COVID pandemic and the armed conflict in Tigray. Now that the conflict is
on the way to resolution, I would like to complete shooting the final portion of the film in
February-March 2023. I plan to edit the full-length documentary by December, 2023.