TPLF to ban Ethiopian film for mocking elections and results

By Dawit Endeshaw

The movie was banned and Bureau staff dismissed for approving it but no political motive was ascribed
Addis Abeba City Administration Culture & Tourism Bureau (AACCTB), which had banned the release of the sequel to the Amharic movie Taschereshegnalesh in early May, 2015, is now taking it one step further as it prepares to send a letter to the production company banning the release of the Compact Discs (CDs).

The decision by the Bureau came after the movie had already premiered in cinemas. Having banned the movie, the Bureau also fired two of the experts that worked in its Film Certification & Supervision Office, Solomon Danu and Woodneshe Abera, for having approved it.

Taschereshegnalesh Part Two, a movie produced by Solar Productions, is categorised under satire and comedy genre and it has a run time of an hour and forty five minutes.

The movie is about a man who likes a girl whose mother is involved in the election as a nominee for one of the parties. He follows the nominee as he tries to impress the woman by helping put up campaign posters around town. Sub-plots include his friends who also help him in his quest as they try to leave the country and take him with them.

The movie is said to endorse the migration of the youth as well as mock elements of the election campaigns and results, according to multiple sources that have watched the movie.

“The movie has a problem in that it has a negative impact on the working cultures of the youth and it also promotes drugs and migration,” said Worku Mengesha, communications head of the Bureau.

Initially, the Bureau’s Film Certification & Supervision Office had watched the movie and had given the producers information on what parts to cut out of the movie. Later on, the film producers had come back to the Office and had received approval.

Following the approval, the producers decided to premiere the movie in early May and immediately afterwards, the Bureau banned it.

The decision to ban has no political motivation whatsoever, Worku said.

“That would be censorship, which is unconstitutional,” he declared.

He stated categorically that the movie would not get a second chance. In the old days, movies that were banned from cinemas would have the chance to be published in CD format, which is illegal.

“But now, we are working to make sure that this will not happen,” Worku added.

In relation to the expelled employees of the Bureau, a disciplinary committee within the Bureau is seeing their case after they had submitted a report on the issue and they are awaiting a response.

Solomon Negash, the producer of the movie, refused to give any comment on the issue.

AACCTB, one of the mainstream offices of Addis Abeba, is responsible for approving or rejecting movies before their premieres in cinemas based on 12 guidelines under Proclamation No. 3/2014. Those subject to prohibition include movies which promote pornography and drugs, and those that degrade religion and ethnicity.

In the current fiscal year alone, from July 2014 to May 2015, the Bureau has allowed 95 movies to be shown in cinemas and listed 10 movies that need to make adjustments in order to gain approval.