Documentary chronicles three Ethiopian women’s fight for justice in an Atlanta court after surviving torture in Addis Ababa; case handled by Atlanta firm Kilpatrick Townsend
Atlanta, GA — FMRL Media and Above the Clouds today announced their film, A FIRE WITHIN, will make its world premiere at the 45th Atlanta Film Festival beginning April 22 on a virtual platform. The documentary, which chronicles three Ethiopian women’s fight to bring their torturer to justice in an Atlanta courtroom, is directed by acclaimed filmmaker Christopher Chambers (ARAM, ARAM). Additionally, a special event, drive-in screening will be held on Friday, April 30 at 8:30 pm ET at the historic Plaza Theatre (1049 Ponce De Leon Ave NE). For tickets and additional information: atlantafilmfestival.com.
A FIRE WITHIN recounts the remarkable coincidence when Edjegayehu “Edge” Taye, Elizabeth Demissie, and Hirut Abebe-Jiri, three Ethiopian women who immigrate to the United States after surviving torture in their home country, discover the man responsible for their torture is living in America and working at the same restaurant as Edge in midtown Atlanta’s Colony Square Hotel. In Ethiopia, Kelbessa Negewo was a government official who tortured and executed scores of civilians during “The Red Terror” – an era of violent political repression that followed the fall of Emperor Haile Selassie in the 1970s. At the Colony Square Hotel, he was the dish washer.
After confirming Negewo’s identity, the women vowed to find a way to bring him to justice. Atlanta-based lawyers Miles Alexander, Laurel Lucey and Michael Tyler at Kilpatrick Townsend law firm, along with ACLU Director Paul Hoffman, took the women’s case pro bono. Their legal strategy would hinge on the Alien Tort Statute of 1789, a section from America’s first Judiciary Act. Since 1979 (Filártiga v. Peña-Irala), American human rights lawyers have used the Alien Tort Statute to bring cases against human rights violators. The film documents the women’s harrowing journey to justice, bringing them face to face with their own torturer in what became a historic trial in modern American human rights law.
“Making this film has been a powerful, humbling experience,” said Chistopher Chambers, director. “The resilience of these three women, refusing to be intimidated into silence by their abuser, relentlessly pursuing justice, while struggling to start new lives as immigrants and refugees, is nothing less than heroic. These women represent the best of what “American values” can and should be.”
A FIRE WITHIN is executive produced by supermodel Liya Kebede, who is an Ethiopian native. Kebede is also an actress, former World Health Organization (WHO) Ambassador, women’s rights activist, and founder and creative director of lemlem fashion brand.
“I was so touched and moved by this story,” said Kebede. “We don’t often get to hear about such stories– the “other” stories. The stories that do not get told. It is very rewarding to be a part of this film and to bring the story of these courageous women to light.”
A FIRE WITHIN was filmed using interviews, archival footage and narrative recreations in 10 cities across the globe, including Atlanta, Georgia; Ottawa, Canada; and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. In Ethiopia, narrative recreations were filmed with a locally-hired, all-Ethiopian cast and crew. Further, the production located and filmed in the actual locations where the women’s interrogations and tortures originally occurred. Follow A FIRE WITHIN on Facebook/Instagram/Twitter @AFireWithinDoc. –BPRW