“The Costly Gifts”, a great step forward in the Eritrean media production

Serawr Information Centre 05, January, 2018

The University of London, SOASA screened documentary film about Eritrea, titled “The Costly Gifts” recently. This is the same institution,  which Martin Plaut has used as one of his main platforms for presenting a political campaign against Eritrea  as a scientific research production.

The film, directed by Dawit Gebreyesus, follows a young Eritrean boy from a small Eritrean village, who aspires to become an international footballer. Often  documentary films on Africa, are produced by the Westerner media. They depict rather a negative images of Africa that reflect their perspective and interest.

Therefore, it is very refreshing to see a documentary film with an Eritrean perspective that meets the high technical professional standard and appealing narration. This is a great step forward in the Eritrean media production> at the international level. The film will also be screened in a major International Film Festivals in the UK in the coming months.

The main storyline of the film is a conflicting views of the boy and his grandfather. The boy, Biniam, received gifts that would help for his aspiration of becoming an international football star from his relatives in the city. His grandfather, however, wants him to put his education first, and would not allow him to have the gifts until he meets certain demands in his school results. Biniam’s grandfather is not alone on this one; most of the Eritrean international  sport stars, including Ghirmay Ghebreslassie, faced similar demands from their parents at the start of their professions.

The film is much more than about the boy’s aspiration and the challenges he faces. It narrates  the way of life of the society and the philosophy behind Eritre’s development policies. Anyone, who has misguided views about Eritrea, or those who want to learn about Eritrea, will find it very informative. The feedback that was given by the many non-Eritreans who attended the screening at the University of London, SOAS, confirms this.

It is also a must-watch documentary film for Eritrean children living abroad. Watching, what their brothers and sisters in Eritrea make with just sheer determination and very limited resources, can inspire them to dream big.

The director of the film, Dawit Gebreyesus, has worked as a camera operator for various producers and directors on TV dramas, music video, short films, advertising and documentaries for major  European global production companies. He has also shot and produced many of his own documentaries, television adverts and infomercials. He also served at ERI-TV, Eritrean television on several occasions.


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