Operation Solomon drama ‘Fig Tree’ heads to Toronto film fest
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Growing pains

Operation Solomon drama ‘Fig Tree’ heads to Toronto film fest

The debut movie by Israeli filmmaker Alamork Marsha draws on her childhood experiences growing up in Ethiopia

Jessica Steinberg covers the Sabra scene from south to north and back to the center.

'Fig Tree,' the award-winning film by Alamork Marsha tells the story of a young Jewish teen and her Christian boyfriend in war-torn Addis Ababa (Courtesy Daniel Miller)
'Fig Tree,' the award-winning film by Alamork Marsha tells the story of a young Jewish teen and her Christian boyfriend in war-torn Addis Ababa (Courtesy Daniel Miller)

“Fig Tree,” the award-winning debut film from director Alamork Marsha, was selected for screening at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival as its world premiere, where it will be part of the festival’s Discovery Section.

This year’s film festival begins September 6 and ends September 16.

The film was nominated for five Ophir Prizes (the Israeli equivalent of the Academy Awards), including best film, following its premiere at last year’s Haifa Film Festival. It will reach Israel’s Lev theater chain at the start of 2019.

The film is based on Marsha’s own experiences growing up in war-torn Addis Ababa, and being airlifted to Israel in 1991 as part of the country’s Operation Solomon.

Mina, the protagonist of ‘Fig Tree,’ about the emotional drama facing a 14-year-old Ethiopian girl (Courtesy Daniel Miller)

“Fig Tree,” filmed entirely in Ethiopia, tells the story of 14-year-old Mina, a Jewish girl attempting to navigate the final days of her youth in pastoral Ethiopia, where she spends her time with her friends and Christian boyfriend Eli.

The 93-minute-film, which is in Amharic with translation to Hebrew and English,  is an emotional drama, as Mina discovers that her family is planning to immigrate to Israel and escape the war that is closing in on her friends and family. Mina seeks to save Eli, who she fears will be kidnapped and conscripted to the Ethiopian army.

The project won the $50,000 top prize at the 2014 Sam Spiegel International Film Lab. Marsha shot the film in Ethiopia, and cast it with amateurs and actors from the local theater scene in Addis Ababa.

While “Fig Tree” has been making the rounds at festivals, Marsha has continued making shorts including “Facing The Wall” (see below), about an Ethiopian girl’s first day in Israel, which recently won best independent film at the Tel Aviv Student Film Festival.

Marsha made another short film, “Korki,” while she was a student at Sam Speigel.

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