Film producer faces criminal charge
Ethiopian film director and writer, Melie Tesfaye may be criminally charged for defamation charge for her film that mixes the spirit and witchery, Phelama. The charge against her Amharic film was brought by the little-known Geda-inspired religious institution, Bafa Abayu Geda Andinet. Melie had been taken to Maekelawi, Central Prison and was released on bail last week. The film’s actors are due to give evidence in the coming days.
The feature film tells the story of a self-proclaimed witch doctor who claims to have the possessing spirits Adal mote, cheats and rapes women on the pretext of exorcising an evil spirit that he claimed possessed them. The plaintiff claims the film used rituals objects considered sacred by the religion for an insult and hate mongering purpose and made fun of the fact that spirits may take possession of people. The prosecutor, who is preparing to file a lawsuit against the producer, says the film hurts the sentiments of the believers and denigrates their religious belief. But the producer said she didn’t know the existence of religious institutions that worship the spirits mentioned in the film.
The film came out two years ago and is available on CD at local stores.