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Awra Amba is a documentary that will tell the story of how a little village called Awra Amba in Northern Ethiopia gave birth to a uniquely indigenous ‘utopian’ community in 1972 and is thriving fifty years on. If you have ever dreamed of living in total equality and in harmony with your fellow humans, then Awra Amba would be your ideal place.

Ten years ago, in the lobby of the Hilton hotel in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Salem Mekuria, the Director of the film, Awra Amba, met a most unlikely man to cross that hotel's threshold. With his kelly green knit hat, clad in a locally woven suit and wrapped in a traditional kuta (white cotton wrap) he looked enough out of place that she asked about who he was.

His name is Zumra Nuru, an indigenous philosopher, a man who never went a day to school but who, fifty years ago had the wisdom and courage to start a quiet social revolution in a tiny poor village in northern Ethiopia. Three days later Salem followed Zumra and his wife Enani to Awra Amba and has been following their story since.

Salem Mekuria is an Ethiopian American, an independent documentary filmmaker/video artist and a retired professor of art at Wellesley College.

The film will feature the fifty plus years of Awra Amba’s story, their struggle for survival through recent Ethiopian social and political history, and their successful emergence as a strong and vibrant egalitarian society. In this time of great challenges, we need stories like Awra Amba’s to show us that we have choice, and power to transform our societies. Their beautiful and foundational philosophy provides us with a North star, small but a true, straight, and transparent path to a healthy, compassionate, and productive living. It is timely. It is a story I want to proudly share with the world.

We are currently in the production stage of the documentary. It will take $235,000 to finish shooting and editing. Please take a look at the short films on the Vimeo link below. I am sure that when you see them, you will be moved to help complete this film and bring it to the public. It is timely. It shows us that the choice is within our reach to transform ourselves and our communities. It is a story you too will want to proudly share with the world.

Photographs by Frederic Fasano

More short clips from Awra Amba can be viewed here.

To make a contribution please use the DONATE button at the top of the page.

What is this money for?

The post-production of the full-length film will start late fall 2024. The bulk of the funding will cover six months of editing, finishing costs, and for promotion and publicity.


If you are interested, we will gladly share with you the breakdown of these costs.

We have a couple of short filming trips to Awra Amba. A small part of the funding will cover the cost of travel and other expenses for a camera person, the director and one assistant. 


The period between the end and the beginning of the new Ethiopian year is a short month of 5 days (6 during leap year) that falls between the rainy months of Nehasie and Meskerem (August/September).  At this time of the year, Awra Amba and its environs turn into vividly lush green environment. With this as background, the Awra Amba community celebrates this anniversary in a variety of festivities, displaying all their achievements throughout the past year. The youth coming back after completing their education away from home, and the others going off to start or resume their schooling in the various colleges and universities around the country, meet to share their experiences. We want to be there to capture these events to add to the richness of the film.

Documentary Educational Resources in Watertown, MA is the non-profit fiscal sponsor and your entire donation will be tax deductible.

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