Netherlands Film Festival screens Soles of Ethiopia

Posted on September 5, 2010


Soles of Ethiopia, a documentary about shoes in Ethiopia, will be shown at the annually held Netherlands Film Festival (NFF). Since its premiere at the end of July, the debut movie of Dutch filmmaker Joost van der Wiel has repeatedly been praised for its refreshing view on Ethiopia and received several awards.

NFF, the leading Dutch film festival, will be held from September 22 to October 1, 2010, in Utrecht. It has scheduled the screening of Soles of Ethiopia for Sunday September 26 (16.15h) and Tuesday 28 September (22.15h).

In a series of portraits Soles of Ethiopia tells the personal stories behind shoes and the Ethiopians who wear, shine, fix, collect or even worship them. It thereby offers a close look into the daily lives of people from various parts of Addis Ababa’s society.

Success & sorrow
With Soles of Ethiopa director Van der Wiel proofs that daily life in Ethiopia is not solely determined by famine and poverty, problems the country is still often associated with in the West. “Soles of Ethiopia is about personal success, sorrow, struggle and joy. Things that are part of everyone’s daily life,” the filmmaker says. “It shows that life in Addis Ababa is determined by individual choices.”

But why shoes? “It’s simple, I noticed that they are more than just shoes to Ethiopians,” Van der Wiel answers straightforward. “I never saw a city with more listros than Addis Ababa. Shoes mean the world to these boys.” The filmmaker refers to a team of shoeshine boys that work in front of Peacock Café in the Bole sub city of Addis Ababa and are featured in his film. “These boys dream big and work hard for it,” he says.

Despite showing some contrasting realities, Soles of Ethiopia never gets sentimental or judgmental. There is an ambitious athlete, for example, who dedicates his life to become a professional runner but has to skip a meal every once in a while to purchase new sports shoes. It’s a totally different world from that of the unmotivated student, who just calls his mother in the US whenever he wants to buy a new pare of sneakers.

Most promising
Van der Wiel recently graduated from the Willem de Kooning Academy of Arts in Rotterdam. The Dutch film and arts academy declared the 26-year old filmmaker “Most Promising Academy Graduate of 2010”.

In addition to this, he received a trophy and a 5,000-euro prize fee at the Media & Design Graduation Festival to be invested in his future documentaries. The jury praised Van der Wiel’s professional attitude and his ability to shed a new light on a subject, Ethiopia, that has been taken on before by various documentary makers.

The documentary has also been complimented for its distinguishing and original music, produced by Mattijs de Regt and Jorge San Martin, owners of HapSlik Music. De Regt and San Martin recently released the Soles of Ethiopia soundtrack. The album contains eight tracks that are inspired by Ethiopian music.

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