Know Your Place
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
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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.