Still from Tesfaye
Still from Tesfaye


by Daniel D Negatu
There is no singular immigrant experience, a fact beautifully rendered in this story of trauma, migration and the strain to navigate “home.”
2019  ·  22m  ·  Canada
Amharic, English
About the Film

TESFAYE (Hope)is a 30-minute experimental documentary film based on the extraordinary life of an Ethiopian refugee, rescued from the sea in Madagascar and now living in Canada. Shot in Ethiopia and Canada, the film recounts the life of Tesfaye – caught between a nostalgia for his home country and the possibility of a better life in another one.

To experiment with alternative methods of film exhibition, this film is structured as a traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony which is composed of three sections – ABOL, TONA, BEREKA.

The coffee ceremony is practiced all over Ethiopia for generations and is one of the cultural devices that help foster community discussions where people share their experiences and tell stories. Similar to the Ethiopian coffee ceremony, the film is also broken into three sections and screened in parallel with the ceremony. It is to be stopped at the end of each section for a refill of coffee and audience participation.

Upcoming Screenings

Stay tuned for upcoming screenings!

About the Director

Daniel D Negatu


Born and raised in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, I have been making documentary and experimental videos, and dramatic films for ten years. My time-based and photographic works have been exhibited in Ethiopia, South Africa, Burkina Faso, the USA, France and Canada.

I’m very interested in working on the convergence of age-old indigenous African/Ethiopian mediums with modern, technology driven ones like cinema, photography, VR and AR thereby discovering new ways of telling stories, engaging audiences and fostering community values, understanding and tolerance. This also involves explorations of two seemingly contradictory sensibilities in the cultures from which these mediums originated: values of moderation, reverence for nature and communal living, in contrast to values of individualism and superfluous comfort aided by technology. But does this mean one precludes the other? What are some problems prevalent in modern society that wisdom from indigenous cultures can address?

As many Africans look to the west as a way of life to aspire to, many traditional practices that constitute the core social functions within African societies are fast becoming obsolete. I have made it my responsibility as a filmmaker to document, re-tell and re-imagine African stories to help them stay relevant in an increasingly developing world. Cultural identity should not be a compromise for development.