|The Awra Amba Experience, illustration by Paul Jackson and Julie Kim|
Ten years ago Serdar Ferit and his wife Paulina Tervo stumbled upon Awra Amba, a unique rural community in northern
men and women are viewed as equals. Ever since, they have been documenting life
in this fascinating, egalitarian world. Ethiopia
Established 40 years ago by an illiterate, visionary farmer called Zumra Nuru, today the community boasts nearly 500 inhabitants who make a living through a sustainable weaving business. In Awra Amba, work is distributed according to skills rather than gender, women's and maternal health is respected and protected, marriage below the age of 19 is not allowed and girls are encouraged and supported to go to school. Decision-making, work and profit are distributed equally and progressive democratic values underpin the community's day-to-day life.
It’s a far cry from the poverty-stricken patriarchal society that occupies much of
Indeed the true egalitarian nature of the village would put most Western
societies to shame too. Ethiopia
Ferit and Tervo’s award-winning production company Write This Down has filmed the Awra Amba in action. They now want to release an innovative digital documentary that pushes the boundaries of filmmaking through real-life interaction with the villagers.
The Awra Amba Experience will take viewers on a journey around the village, where they can explore a virtual simulation of the community and enter into ten interactive huts with beautiful 360-degree panoramic interiors. Inside, they will meet the residents of Awra Amba, watch a series of compelling short films, and learn about the community's way of life through photo stories, interviews and infographics. The Awra Amba villagers will be available for a set period of time to answer questions and have a 2-way dialogue with the audience.
The couple want to produce two versions of the digital documentary: one for the general public, the other as an educational experience created specifically for use in classrooms. In order to make this exciting project a reality, the filmmaker couple have launched a crowd-funding campaign on IndieGoGo. Their goal is to raise a minimum of £30,000 by 30 May 2014 in order to put the final touches to their years of work.
Can you help them? Every contribution gets a unique gift from the project: £10 buys you high resolution digital wallpapers, for £50 you get a ticket to the London premier or the Awra Amba DVD collection, while £500 secures an exclusive preview, and for a whopping £15,000 you get to be hands on with the film and receive a producer’s credit at the end. Visit their campaign page to see a short film about the Awra Amba Experience and make your donation: www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-awra-amba-experience