TEZETA: Memories of Ethiopia

English Daily #1
TEZETA (Aramazt Kalayjian/Garegin Papoyan, Ethiopia/Armenia), Yerevan Premiere, 8-7 16:30 House of Cinema Grand Hall

Many an explanation is given to the Amharic word “tezeta”, but probably the most poignant comes from Aramazt Kalayjian, the narrator, writer and co-director of the eponymous documentary: “an in-between state, where the ghosts of the past meet the palpability of the present.” In that sense, it’s the perfect title for a film exploring the life of Armenian musicians, almost mythical figures, who have so greatly contributed to Ethiopian history and culture, and the newer generations of both Armenian and Ethiopian descent, taking their legacy to new uncharted territories.

Yet TEZETA is much more than that. Along with co-director Garegin Papoyan, Kalayjian brings to life his long-standing passion project, which he had conceived of in 2012 or maybe sooner. It is his love-letter to the charmingly chaotic land of Ethiopia and specifically its bustling capital of Addis Ababa, itself in an in-between state — “not quite a city, but a sprawling village”, as Kalayjian puts it. Full of enough names and facts to fill multiple volumes and enough Ethiopian jazz to give your Shazam app the ultimate test, the film can at times seem overwhelming, but never boring and always alive.

Artur Vardikyan