Abraham & Sarah I: Creators of a Productive Landscape


In the highlands of northern Ethiopia Hagos and Desta have turned the rugged mountain slopes into fertile ground not only to feed themselves but also to share with pilgrims who regularly pass by their homestead. In return, the pilgrims have given them the biblical names "Abraham" and "Sarah". The film explores the work ethos of these Tigrean farmers: their devotedness to the tasks at hand; the coordinated movements of humans and animals as they work when ploughing, sowing, harvesting, threshing; - and finally those moments of invocation when the dependence on nature and the transcendent are acknowledged.

Abraham & Sarah II. Hosting the Gundagundo Pilgrims


Germany, Ethiopia, 2019, 41 min / Original languages: Tigrinya
Location: Ethiopia, Northern Ethiopia, Tigray
A Film by: Tesfahun Haddis Hailu

In the highlands of Tigray - northern Ethiopia - Hagos Mashisho and Desta Gidey have toiled for years to turn the rugged mountain slopes into fertile ground. They have grown crops not only to feed themselves but also to share with the pilgrims who regularly pass by on their way to the monastery of Gundagundo. Touched by the kindness of their hosts, the pilgrims have given them the biblical names "Abraham" and "Sarah". The film shows how with the meagre means of their subsistence farming Abraham and Sarah host the pilgrims when they return from the Gundagundo festival and in turn receive their blessings.

Dancing Grass. Harvesting Teff in the Tigrean Mountains


Germany, Ethiopia, 2019, 40 min / Original languages: Tigrinya
Location: Ethiopia, Northern Ethiopia, Tigray
A Film by: Mitiku Gabrehiwot

Teff is at the centre of the livelihood of smallholder farmers and may be called the 'cereal core' of Ethiopian national food identity. The film follows the sequence of events once the "dancing grass" has ripened: first comes the cutting; and then drying and stacking; threshing and winnowing; and the sale of teff in the local market. Then off with a donkey to the mill; then as enjera is prepared for the family and guests; then coffee drinking and blessing; and finally the biblical Mesqel fire, celebrated at the end of the rainy season by the Orthodox Christians of Ethiopia.

In Aiye's Garden. Propagation and Processing of enset in the Gamo Highlands


Enset resembles the banana plant and is produced primarily for its large quantity of carbohydrate-rich food. "Aiye" - mother of many children - as a widow is the head of her household. She grows barley, wheat, beans and potatoes, but most important is the enset, which she cultivates in the garden around her house. The film provides an opportunity to understand how "Aiye" – assisted by a young woman servant - grows and processes enset using only simple tools and local organic fertilizers. We also learn how in the Gamo highlands women play an important role in the effort to ensure food security.

Family Subsistence in the Hills of Hamar: We are Guests of Shawa


Kaira's friend Shawa moved to her present home as a young widow with two sons in search of good land. Here she met Garombe and had four more children. We get a close view of the family pursuing subsistence farming in the hills of Hamar. The children learn through hands-on activities, and Shawa and her sons master the new art of ox-plowing. After taking grain by donkey to a distant flourmill, Shawa and daughters brew beer, which her sons drink when plowing the field. Garombe tells how they gave up digging-stick cultivation, and he enclosed bush for the plow-oxen and future fields. A son checks his beehive, cattle return home, children milk goats, and Shawa and girls prepare the evening meal.

Discussion Sunday morning

Participants: Ivo Strecker, Tesfahun Haddis Hailu, Mitiku Gabrehiwot, Eyob Defersha, Jean Lydall, Kaira Strecker  
Moderation: Igor Karim

Guardians of Productive Landscapes: A Conversation

Following the presentation of the films and the discussion with the filmmakers a group of specialist talk about the project and about projects which were developed newly in the context of the Guardians of Productive Landscapes project.

Speaker were:

  • Ivo Strecker, Günther Schlee, Feleke Woldeyes,
  • Shauna LaTosky and Olisarali Olibui,
  • Echi Gabbert,
  • Sophia Thubauville and Igor Karim

The was talk moderated by Igor Karim.