Cast: Semenesh Chesa, Samuel Ghebreselassie, Merone Misiker, Briana Stoakley, Samrawit Kefale-Mareye, Maric Yates, Dylan Boland
Crew: Producers: Gonzalo Guajardo-Fajardo, Helana Papayanopulos, Bakyt Zhumadilova – Screenwriters: Gonzalo Guajardo-Fajardo, Abezash Tamerat
Why can’t Rahel bring herself to sign her artwork? The visit of her high school academic triggers memories of why she is haunted by her surname, yet would not consider changing it.
Gonzalo Guajardo-Fajardo grew up filming crazy shorts with his friends in the backyard of his home in Seville, Spain. He always knew that this was his true vocation. He enrolled in Audiovisual Communications & Liberal Arts, and continued his learning process in the US and Central Europe. In the summer of 2008, a trip to Ethiopia changed his life: He would never look back. He learned to speak Amharic, worked as a teacher, founded the humanitarian NGO VIHVE, and has been hired for myriad jobs for important worldwide channels and agencies, such as CNN, USAID, CCTV, MOVISTAR 0+, AFP, TV5Monde, and NHK, among others. He has published two collective fiction books and has recently been awarded for two short documentaries, which are still on the festival run. He holds a Master’s Degree in Documentary Photography from the University of Seville and a Master’s Degree in Filmmaking from the New York Film Academy in Los Angeles, completing the latter as a full beneficiary of the Spanish Talentia Scholarships. “Paper Boats” is his thesis film, produced in the Summer of 2019.
Paper Boats is a drama based on a few episodes of the memoir “How Long Can a Paper Boat Float?” by Abezash Tamerat. Reading the manuscript, I instantly knew a movie had to be made. The draft was touching, well written, cinematic, and brought a new approach to themes such as justice, love, hate, and identity. The story unfolds both in the US and Ethiopia between the 1980s and today, depicting the struggles, defeats and triumphs of the main character during her childhood in Ethiopia, her departure to the US, dramatic events as a teenager, life with a new family and trip back to Ethiopia. We knew that the adaptation would be challenging, but we believed that it was a story that needed to be shared. The process took an emotional toll on both of us, bringing us to seek professional therapy. Today, we both agree it has been worth it both for the movie and for our relationship. Paper Boats is the tale of someone who lost her childhood and tries to find her place in the world. It’s a story of love conquering hatred against all the odds.