When his mother receives a late-night plea for help, Robel (Joseph Smith), an Eritrean-American teenager, must transport a suitcase of cash and medicine to a family friend in desperate need. Accompanied by Fahmi (Natnael Mebrahtu), his Ethiopian-American best friend, Robel sees their trek through south Seattle grow increasingly labyrinthine. As they pass abandoned houses and encounter cab drivers, shopkeepers, and other members of the working class, they grow aware of how their rapidly gentrifying, constantly redeveloping city is slowly forcing out people of colour such as themselves. As Robel and Fahmi race against the clock to complete their errand, they must likewise consider that the only way of life they’ve ever known may now be on borrowed time.
Zia Mohajerjasbi’s Emerald City odyssey is clear-eyed and tender in turns. As he investigates themes of personal identity, family responsibility, and community, he does so through nuanced interactions rather than didactic proclamations. Employing Nicholas Wiesnet’s cinematography to tremendous effect, Mohajerjasbi ensures that his striking depiction of Seattle reflects issues running rampant in countless other North American cities.
Best Film, Seattle 2022
Q&A Oct 4 & Oct 5
Joseph Smith, Natnael Mebrahtu, Selamawit Gebresus, Esther Kibreab, Haileselassie Kidane
In English and Tigrinya with English subtitles
Wednesday October 05
More Films in this Series
Know Your Place
Running an important errand across south Seattle, two teenagers become aware that their rapidly gentrifying city is slowly forcing out people of colour like themselves. An Emerald City odyssey that investigates identity, responsibility, and community.
With her semi-autobiographical screenplay finally going into production, Hanieh must now contend with the nonplussed cast's cutting remarks. This filmmaker's tragicomic living hell is fueled by anarchic energy, palpable anxiety, and biting humour.
A delightfully tender drama following a man returning to his native village to tie up loose family ends, where he strikes up an unlikely friendship with a 10-year-old orphan boy determined to claim his place in the vast Mongolian grasslands.
In the 1980s Balkan countryside, a family prepares for the arrival of their uncle, who will inspect every detail of the Christmas presentation. They eat turkey, sing, watch family videos, and open presents. But something is amiss.
Zia Mohajerjasbi, Josh Peters, Harry Calbom, Samira Gagné Ludwin, Adam Ludwin
Ty Walker, Zia Mohajerjasbi
Marty Martin, Zia Mohajerjasbi
Zia Mohajerjasbi is an Iranian-American filmmaker hailing from Seattle, a city that has served as the primary focus of his work. In 2015, he wrote and directed the award-winning narrative short film, Hagereseb, and is the cinematographer and director of an ongoing storytelling series, The Charcoal Sky. Know Your Place, which Mohajerjasbi wrote and directed, is his debut feature film.