How did it all start?

We were both wandering souls who had come to feel so much at home in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. And yet it was by complete chance that we stumbled into another in the city nightlife. Thus Ethiopian-American Abezash Tamerat met me, Gonzalo Guajardo, Spanish by birth and Ethiopian by heart. That was in 2016.

Though only in her mid-30s, she was writing her memoirs. What she had been through before we met turned out to be harrowing, shocking, tearful, yet also profoundly inspiring. I was blown away and wanted to take it to the screen. So much happened since then. We married, had a child, I got a scholarship to come to Los Angeles, pursued a Master’s Degree in Filmmaking, and finally directed this short film as a foretaste of a much longer and larger format that we hope to bring to life in the years to come.

 Welcome on board!

Gonzalo Guajardo & Abezash Tamerat

Synopsis of the story

Rahel has come from early childhood in rural Ethiopia to becoming an intensely devoted student at a top art school in the US. She has just been recognised for her talent and rewarded with an invitation to prepare her first-ever solo exhibition.

As she is immersed in the creation process, an old friend knocks on the studio door, eager to celebrate this first milestone in Rahel’s career. But why can’t she bring herself to sign her own artwork? The old friend knows only too well where the sore point is. Rahel is haunted by her own surname, yet has a much stronger reason not to change it.

This dilemma evokes Rahel’s memories of when the old friend was her academic advisor at high school. By then, Rahel had managed to adapt to America, but not to the dark despair of being in the grip of a dysfunctional family.

 Written by Rasmus Sonderriis.

Paper Boats Trailer