“I Realized that the Sky is the limit”, Dawit

By Luwam Kahsay H.

Every manufacturer designs his product using the right components, engineered to fulfill the function that the product is created to perform. Today’s guest, Dawit Eyob, made a short film, “Burden”, which fulfilled its function and won several international awards in Los Angeles, USA, and Ukraine. Dawit is one of the artists who are contributing their best to improve Eritrean art.

Thank you for your time. Introduce yourself, please.

My name is Dawit Eyob. I have worked most of my life in art, especially comedy. But when it comes to the film “Burden,” I am its script writer and director.

What was the pivot to this short film?

I always wanted to convey a message to women about the side effects of giving birth at home instead of in the hospital. This is because for me a mother is a light of the house. Her presence is seen as an assurance of the existence of her home, especially in our society. So, I felt like contributing something by showing her value in all aspects of life, especially regarding her health.

What is the substance of this film?

Due to negligence or laziness, many women, particularly in rural areas, continue to give birth at home which is against the country’s health policy. This is risky as it is difficult for such women to get the needed treatment at the needed time. A mother resembles a nation. A healthy mother means a healthy family and healthy families lead to a healthy society,

In the film, a woman loses a lot of blood while giving birth at home to a baby girl and dies on her husband’s hands on her way to hospital. The obscure content comes here. What is this newly born little girl’s destiny going to be? Is she going to face the same fate? The main message of the film is to show the benefit of giving birth at hospital as it is safe both to the mother and the child.

Give us details about the contents of the film?

Our initial project idea for the short film was very different from the present one. It got to its present form after a long discussion that lasted almost two years with my crew. The biggest part of the film is devoted to the painful experience the mother goes through while giving birth. In this film we have tried to capture all our traditional beliefs and practices associated with mothers during labor. For instance, the tradition of putting some butter on the woman’s head before giving her a traditional steam while the women kneel down and invoke the Holy Virgin nonstop trying to ease the woman’s pain. Here, we managed to take charming shots that can perfectly represent our society. It was very difficult to make, but I really admire the unity among the crew in making the work very classic.

Tell us the procedure you followed in making the film?

After the script took its final shape and form, like all works of art, it had to be viewed by all members of the crew, including the cameraman, makeup artist, and the director. We then went to the setting, Daero Pawlos, to put everything together for the shooting to start.

When we started choosing our casts, we learned Asmelash, who plays ‘the husband,’ lost his true mother-in-law in labor at home. This made the story very toughing to almost all of us, especially me. After we decided about our casts we started filming.

How did you manage to enter the competition?

When I saw some veteran artists win several awards I started wondering whether I should enter a competition to check out my competence. As I had no knowledge in this sphere I asked Abraham Gebrehiwet, a friend of mine who is knowledgeable. I gave him full responsibility to enter “Burden” in world film competitions. After sometime he told me that the film won four awards in three competitions: Onyko Award for ‘best short film’ in Ukraine and two Global Film Festival Awards for short films in Los Angeles, USA.

Did you have any expectations that the film would win?

To be honest I had no expectations to win. My intentions were only to give it a try because I believe that not trying is a failure while trying alone earns you 50% of the victory. By trying you always benefit because even if you don’t win, you get to be corrected thereby gaining new knowledge.

The short film is a proof of how unity, the crew, working as a team, brings a big triumph. If it had been done only by me, believe me, I wouldn’t have won one award let alone four. The lesson is that if every citizen gives their best at their job, our country will develop in no time. I have never won a prize at school but now that I have won awards I am very proud of myself. I have made a frame for my awards in my bedroom to see it every time I wake up.

Do you believe it paid all your hard work?

Yes, indeed. It even became an impulse for the best that could be done in the future as victory is not the final stage or a reason to boast, but a step for what is to be done next. This is just the result of our try. As someone who knows little, if I am able to win the award imagine what those with a lot of knowledge and talent could do. We should always give our very best in our career and aim for the biggest as the sky is the limit.

Do you have any other messages?

I would like to thank God and all my colleagues. Our country’s art will surely grow if we all put what we have got in the basket. We, artists, should be farsighted and patient in what we do as great things take time to accomplish.

I would like to thank my friend, Simon, who lives in Sweden, for his financial support, Mike, who translated the script in English for the subtitle and Abraham. If it wasn’t for Abraham, “Burden” wouldn’t have been recognized internationally.

And last but not least I would like to thank all my crew members who have given their best in making the short film remarkable.