FILM spotlights hidden cost of urban growth in Ethiopia..........

Ethiopia, a nation of 105 million and an economic power in East Africa, is grappling with housing crisis and new developments are leaving millions like Asalif out of picture, Scarpelli said.

LONDON : Living in a tool shed on the outskirts of Ethiopia's capital, 10-year old Asalif Tewold straddles a unique space between modernity and tradition.

In his short life, he has lived on a rural farm and in the shadows of a towering condominium complex - learning how to dodge dangerous hyenas and land developers - as he and his dispossessed family try to find a place to call home.

The young boy and his mother are the subject of the film ANBESSA meaning ''lion'' in Amharic, one of Ethiopia's main languages, that tracks their displacement  off  farmland  to make way for a block of flats on the fringes of Addis Ababa.

The playful protagonist, Asalif, takes centre stage in the documentary by US film-maker  Mo Scarpelli  as he lives and plays in the looming shadow of the buildings.

''Asalif  is the perfect person - he lives literally on the rift of the old and new,'' Scarpelli said.  Anbessa follows over two years as seeks to ward off roaming hyenas both literally in the forest and in the form of lurking land developers.

As he carves out a space to call home, he and millions of others globally are learning that ''progress'' is not for them, said Scarpelli, as the film anayses universal themes of gentrification and urbanisation.

About  40%  of Africa's one billion people live in towns and cities and the urban population is expected to double over the next 25 years, the World Bank predicts.

''I do feel like there's  this kind of sweeping narrative about the future and about a better way of life that for sure has been exported from Europe and North America to the rest of the world,'' said Scarpelli.

''That this is the way we should live - bigger is better.

''But the film is concerned with what gets lost along the way, from storytelling to family structures, steam-rolled by modernity, she said. [Thomson Reuters Foundation].


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