is sort of like Jeff Bridges’ Starman, except he has a prominent set of fangs.
He just might need that chomping power. Of all the places he could fall to
Earth, he finds himself in Ethiopia during the 1936 Italian invasion.
Fortunately, he will soon meet a terrestrial guide to learn from and perhaps
protect in Andy Siege’s fable-like Beti and
which screens during the 2015 Palm Springs International Film Festival.
has already been brutalized by the war, but she is not talking about it. Her
mother sent her to stay with the grandfather she hardly knows, believing she
will be safer in the remote desert. However, the area is patrolled by a trio of
self-proclaimed “protectors,” whose like Beti has ruefully seen before. They
definitely take notice of her too, making her highly vulnerable when her
grandfather must leave to buy new livestock.
to some quick thinking, Beti is able to temporarily forestall the dubious
militia men. Into this tense environment lands an egg with a passenger inside,
like Mork from Ork, but the visitor Beti names Amare has the consciousness of a
child. At least he is a quick learner, instinctively resourceful, and sports a
mean set of canines. Confrontation is obviously inevitable, especially when an Italian
soldier stumbles into the film.
produced on a $7,000 budget, B & A is
an admirably scrappy little film. Granted, Siege’s Spartan aesthetic and
minimalist desert locale make virtues of necessities, but bringing in a period
science fiction film for less the five figures is impressive any way you slice
it. Just imagine what he could do with an extra grand. Clearly, he has a passion
and talent for filmmaking (and he is credibly intense and loathsome playing the
Italian), but it would not kill anyone if he picked up the pace a little in his
maybe there is a little bit of slack in B
& A. Regardless, Hiwot Asres performance as Beti is remarkably brave
and honest. Siege also has an amazing eye for visual composition, mixing
black-and-white with color for striking effect. He even stages bizarrely
stylized dream sequences that look like the product of Georges Méliès on an
& A is a little rough around the edges, but Siege’s execution is so
strangely distinctive, he earns the benefit of the doubt. After all, it is
about as underdog a film as you are likely to see at a major festival.
Recommended for those looking for something different, Beti and Amare screens this Friday (1/9) and next Sunday (1/11), as
part of this year’s PSIFF.
Labels: Ethiopian Cinema, PSIFF '15, Sci-Fi films