Spotlight: On The Set Of QANAFAA

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Keetiim Sitota, lead actress, wears the Qanafaa

This past fall (2015), Sandscribe students Bayisa Tura and Sagni Dibisa wrote and directed the short film Qanafaa as part of the intensive class, “From Script to Screen,” taught by visiting Fulbright scholar Fulbright  Lucy Gebre-Egziabher. Qanafaa has received much praise from audiences in Ethiopia.

In Qanafaa, a woman is beaten by her husband. Although she forgives him, the village elders still must decide how to respond to the man’s offense against a woman in their community.

“Qanafaa” is the Oromo-language word for a traditional band that a woman wears on her forehead when she is pregnant and as a necklace after the child is born. It is punishable for a man to disrespect a woman wearing Qanafaa. Today the Qanafaa is a symbol of women’s rights in the traditional democratic Gadaa system of Oromo culture. Bayisa and Sagni wanted to tell a story that shows the importance of mutual respect between men and women in their culture.

Although Bayisa and Sagni are men, they were inspired to make this film about women’s rights out of the respect they have for their mothers, their sisters, and all the women in their community. They believe the tradition of women’s rights in the Oromo culture is a positive value that they can teach the world through their films.

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Directors Bayisa (L) and Sagni (R)

Bayisa, 24, earned a degree in mechanical engineering from Haramaya University in Ethiopia. He has taken many courses with Sandscribe, including editing, cinematography, and directing; as well as classes taught through Sandscribe’s collaboration with Wagner College on film analysis and the history of African cinema.

Sagni, 25, graduated from Haramaya University with a degree in civil engineering. His collaboration with Bayisa on Qanafaa is his first experience with Sandscribe; he is very encouraged to write and produce more movies in the future. Both he and Bayisa are grateful for the skills, support, and inspiration that Sandscribe has given them.

Below are more photos from the set of Qanaffa.

lead actress, Keetiim Sitota, with "Mother."
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