Movie: Jeans and Marto / go back to Issue 6 

Jeans and Martò is a documentary movie about Roba Bulga, a young man of the Karrayyu tribe from the Fantalle region of Oromia deep within the nation state of Ethiopia. Because of various opportunities given to him by the Gudina Tumsa Foundation and others, Roba was able to attend high school and later graduate with a degree in languages and literature from Addis Ababa University. He then received an invitation from Slow Food International to work for them and to do graduate work near the city of Turin, Italy at the University of Gastronomic Sciences.

The movie tells the story of the two worlds Roba inhabits -- the modern world of cities such as Addis Ababa and Turin and the pastoral world of Fantalle.  Roba gradually forms a meaningful connection between the new environmentally conscious and internationally aware Slow Food movement and the local traditions and the struggles of his family. The title of the movie is a metaphor for these two worlds. Roba’s unique and privileged point of view provides a new way of considering a burning issue, namely how tradition and modernity can work together in building a better future.

We have selected two short clips from the movie for our website. The first clip is from the very beginning of the movie where Roba begins to tell his story, explains the metaphor of the jeans and the martò, and shows the contrast between his experience as a college student in Addis Ababa and his experience growing up in the Fantalle region.

In the second clip, Roba is returning to his home village to tell his father about the invitation he received from Slow Food International. On the way home, he changes into his traditional clothing and has a conversation with his brother. Roba knows that he is about to become a world traveler and feels the need to come to an understanding with his father and with his traditions.

The two film makers met Roba in Italy and travelled with him to Oromia, and while there were immediately inspired to tell his story. Clio Sozzani is anthropologist and filmmaker. Since 2005 she has worked on developing projects in Africa, and as the film director for different international production companies and nonprofit organizations. Together with Claudia Palazzi she co-directed two short documentaries, In Benito’s Land and Memories from Crespi d’Adda. Jeans and Martó is Clio and Claudia’s first feature-length film. Claudia Palazzi is a sociologist and filmmaker. In 2008 she wrote a series of documentaries for the TV series Erotika Italiana and Addiction, broadcast on Cult 131. For the last two years she has been working for Endemol Production and Realizad TV series broadcast on channels such as Italia 1 and Rai 2.