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Screening of film Tidar (Marriage) held at the Institute of Orthodox Christian Studies in Cambridge

Photo: Courtesy of IOCS

On Monday, June 3rd, project dldl/ድልድል held a screening of docudrama Tidar (Marriage) at the Institute of Orthodox Christian Studies (IOCS) in Cambridge, England. This is the first screening in the United Kingdom and follows an official film premiere in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in December 2023.

The Institute for Orthodox Christian Studies (IOCS) is the pan-Orthodox house for theological studies in the ancient university city of Cambridge functioning with the formal approval and blessing of the Pan-Orthodox Episcopal Assembly for Great Britain and Ireland. Founded in 1999 the Institute is situated at a major crossroad for academic exchange and attracts students and scholars from across the world.

Dr Romina Istratii has been a Research Fellow at IOCS since October 2023 and has sought to create a platform and space for theologically informed and ethnographically grounded discussions, reflections and responses to gender-related issues and domestic violence in Eastern and Oriental Orthodox communities. The screening of the film was also motivated by the shared mission of Dr Istratii and IOCS to build more knowledge exchange and mutual understanding between Eastern Orthodoxy and the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo faith tradition.

The film screening was preceded by a short introduction by the Principal of IOCS, Fr Dragos Herescu, who reiterated the importance of raising more awareness about domestic violence in Orthodox Christian communities and promoting cross-cultural understanding.

This was followed by a brief introduction by Dr Romina Istratii, who explained the decolonial and spiritual motivations driving her work within the wider field of gender, faith and development, and provided some background on the making of the film. Dr Istratii emphasised that the film is the product of a genuine co-creative process between herself and two production companies in Ethiopia and the UK and the hard work of an all-Ethiopian crew.

Photo Courtesy of IOCS
Photo: Courtesy of IOCS

The screening was followed by a short video, showcased for the first time at IOCS, presenting the ‘Making of Tidar’ with interviews by the director Yidnekachew Shumete Desalegn, the main actors Addis Alemu and Rahel Teshome and Assistant Director Gedam Geto presenting their experience filming, acting and working collaboratively with Dr Istratii and the UK-based producers, Max Conil and Hermon Hailay, throughout the production process.

An intimate discussion over nibbles and refreshments was held between Dr Istratii, the IOCS team and the participants about the making of the film, its integration of theological teachings and empirical research, and its faith-sensitive take on the issue of domestic violence in Ethiopia and the UK.

The reactions from the participants evidenced the need for such films, suggesting the impact that the creative industries can have in both seminarian and public education. The Principal of IOCS offered the below reaction:

The film is such an achievement. I am sure that its positive impact (both research wise and in the Ethiopian Church communities – and beyond) will grow the more it is known.

Fr Dragos Herescu, IOCS Principal

Other participants who had never been exposed to the Ethiopian community or the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church tradition appreciated the consideration with which the film problematised the issue of domestic violence and faith in the Ethiopian countryside, while showing the beauty of Ethiopian culture and its distinct religious heritage, careful not to reinforce historical attitudes that have portrayed African communities through the reductionist lens of ‘societal problems.’

The next film screening is planned to take place in the context of the Annual Conference of Project dldl/ድልድል in the evening of June 19 at SOAS University of London. Dr Istratii will be joined by the film director arriving from Ethiopia and the UK-based producers to answer questions about the film. Registration is open via Eventbrite.