Director's Statement


Quragnaye is a story that delves into an extraordinary traditional law that was abolished during modernity in Ethiopia. I came up with this project while reading books on the traditional laws of Ethiopia. Until the early and mid-19th century in Ethiopia, institutional punitive prisons did not exist and the justice process was restorative. The current justice system has a lot to learn from the past. During those times, rivals of any sort were chained together until they stood trial in front of the royal judge—a process that usually involves the rivals traveling for many days from their hometowns to the court. At the royal court, they perform a traditional court debate with double meaning and poetic riddles, and movement and gesticulation to impress the queen and the attendants of the open court. I imagined a story about a traditional student, who has an affair with the wife of a local judge and, after being caught red-handed, is chained to his lover’s husband and sets out on a 15-day journey to the royal court. The development of the synopsis, the treatment and the script was rewarding for me as I was very eager to go back in time and be part of that old tradition. I have visited the locations and everything is still there; the farms, the old palace, the rivers, the open market, and the landscape are all breathtaking. As a filmmaker and as someone living in a culture where oral tradition is still prominent, my heart is fully engaged in bringing into the public eye and in celebrating underrepresented African narratives through story, sound, and pictures.