AFIDFF African Storytellers

Promoting Africa's talented storytellers, journalists, and documentary producers to global prominence.

African Storyteller of the week

Yared Zeleke  - African Storyteller

Yared is a phenomenal screenwriter who isn’t afraid to share his African story with the world, be it through his personal experiences or through the experiences of his imagined characters. For this week, we will be telling you about Yared Zeleke and why he is our storyteller for the week. 

Who is Mr. Zeleke?

Mr. Yared Zeleke is an Ethiopian born in Addis Ababa. He graced his family with his birth on 27th March 1978 and currently resides in New York, United States of America. He is a film director, a screenwriting professor, and a script consultant. He was branded as one of the “Screenwriters to Watch” by Variety magazine.

Yared earned his Master of Fine Arts(M.F.A.) in Writing and Directing at New York University. He has written, produced, directed, edited, and managed several works. Some of these include FULL(2009), HOUSEWARMING(2009), THE QUIET GARDEN(2009), and his most famous work - LAMB(2015).

While finishing with his university in 2012, his thesis short film, LOTTERY BOY, earned him an award from Hollywood Foreign Press Agency. Also in 2015, Zeleke’s film- Lamb, was screened at Cannes Film Festival under the Un Certain Regard section. It was considered the first out of his homeland, Ethiopia to be in the "Official Selection”. The film garnered positive reviews, including from the New York Times, BBC, CNN, PBS, Guardian, Financial Times, Le Monde, and Der Spiegel. Lamb was also nominated for the Oscars' Best Foreign Language Film shortlist in 2016. It has since been nominated for and won "Best Film" awards at other international film festivals.

Sunbirds, Zeleke's second feature script, received a Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship and a San Francisco Film Society grant. The Sundance Institute through its FilmTwo Initiative and Realness Residency in South Africa also mentored Zeleke on his script.

Why is Zeleke memorable?

Aside from his own projects, Zeleke provides script consultation and lectures on screenwriting and directing. This is remarkable in the sense that he is willing to render his services in helping upcoming storytellers. His line of work coordinates with our

objective to train and empower young creatives to tell their story from their own perspective and project them to global prominence.

Based on an interview Yared had with Off Screen, he explained that his work, Lamb, has content that Ethiopians would like to watch because it is about their childhood, country, and struggle as Ethiopians and as human beings. While making this work, he wanted to display his Ethiopian background while promoting his cultural heritage on a global stage. That alone is praiseworthy to us because of how beautifully he executed it.  

Now that you are aware of who Yared Zeleke is, do you agree with our standpoint on him?



Lamb (2015) - Trailer (English Subs)

Watch the Full Movie here


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