Featuring a stoic central performance from Eshetu, Red Leaves is an effective if slightly slow-moving examination of a patriarchy in decline.
Eshetu (as the elderly Meseganio) absolutely nails his character’s curmudgeonly hubris and stubbornness as one by one he alienates the members of his family. Visually, Red Leaves is functional and performance-driven, as director Gete’s lense favours close-ups of Meseganio’s craggy face over his surroundings.
This laser-sharp focus on his central character unfortunately means that Meseganio’s experiences as an Ethiopian immigrant in Israel – which is the film’s unique selling point – become sidelined to his experiences as an embittered patriarch.
Red Leaves is a worthwhile film, both as a character study and as a look at the waning of a patriarchy – however the immigrant’s experience seems incidental to all else.
CAST: Debebe Eshetu, Meir Dassa, Hanna Haiela
DIRECTOR: Bazi Gete
WRITER: Bazi Gete
SYNOPSIS: Generations clash as an elderly Ethiopian immigrant in Israel visits all of his children’s homes after losing his wife.
Red Leaves was screened as part of the Journey Gala at the 2015 London Film Festival.