Falasha Jews of Ethiopian descent call themselves the House of Israel (Beta Israel) and claim descent from the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon. In 1977 Israeli officials decided that the Law of Return (aliyah) applied to them. This sidebar centers on three films, each with a unique perspective about the struggle of Ethiopians to make aliyah. In the stranger-than-fiction spy thriller The Red Sea Diving Resort, a derelict scuba resort in the Sudanese desert is operated by Mossad agents as a decoy for evacuating refugee Ethiopian Jews. In 1989 during the Ethiopian Civil War, a 16-year-old girl can either escape to Israel or stay with her boyfriend in the powerful drama Fig Tree. And in the emotional documentary The Passengers, two Ethiopian friends embark across the present day American landscape seeking support for the aliyah Israel promised them.
Inspired by one of the most remarkable true life rescue missions ever, The Red Sea Diving Resort is the incredible story of a group of international agents and brave Ethiopians who in the early 80s used a deserted holiday retreat in Sudan as a front to smuggle thousands of refugees to Israel. Chris Evans (Captain America, Avengers) plays Ari Levninson, the Mossad agent who leads the mission together with courageous local Kabede Bimro, played by Michael Kenneth Williams (The Wire, Boardwalk Empire). Posed as naive European entrepreneurs, the team he leads take advantage of the Sudanese government’s interest in expanding its feeble Ministry of Tourism to purchase a strategically located property along the Red Sea. Their plans are thrown for a loop, however, when real tourists begin arriving, expecting service.Read More
14 year old Jewish Mina, is trying to navigate between a surreal routine dictated by the civil war in Ethiopia and her last days of youth with her Christian boyfriend Eli. When she discovers that her family is planning to immigrate to Israel and escape the war, she weaves an alternate plan in order to save Eli. But in times of war, plans tend to go wrong. Marsha's coming of age film debut film is based on her childhood memories of a civil-war-torn Ethiopia.Read More
THE PASSENGERS tells the story of the Ethiopian Jews, and of the struggle for this final community to immigrate to Israel. The film follows the amazing journey of two young men, Demoz and Gezi, as they represent their abandoned community on a fateful mission in America. With intimate access and detailed historical context we follow the unlikely spokesmen, out of Ethiopia for the first time in their lives, as they deal with intense pressure, homesickness and ups and downs of a grassroots campaign, while growing personally from the life-changing journey. When only one of the pair of best friends is unexpectedly approved to immigrate to Israel, they must reconcile the decision and their hopes and dreams while facing an uncertain future.Read More