Erena...Our Eritrea short documentary review

★★★★

Directed by: Aymeric Nicolet, Ellie Hodgetts

Film Review by: Jason Knight

Poster for Erena...Our Eritrea

This documentary focuses on a radio station in Paris that began operating in June 2009. This station is operated by two Eritrean reporters who left Eritrea in order to escape from its harsh government.


Eritrea is a northeast African country on the Red Sea Coast. It gained independence in 1993, following a thirty-year war with Ethiopia. That same year Isaias Afwerki became the country's first president and has held that position ever since. However he later proceeded to use his power in order to apply brutal methods on the people of Eritrea. As a result, many citizens leave the country on a daily basis.


The film begins with texts, in front of an animated map of Eritrea, that explain a brief history of Eritrea, covering the Eritrean War of Independence and how Afwerki took control. Then it moves to the station in Paris, introducing the journalists who work there. They reveal information about their past and explain how and why they decided to set up the Radio Erena radio station.


Currently Eritrea is considered to be the worst place when it comes to freedom of the press. The station broadcasts news and information on a daily basis to the people of Eritrea. Their mission is to keep them informed and by doing so hopefully, one day this will lead to the end the country's suffering.


The two reporters come across as friendly and intelligent. Their voice-over is very informative. They reveal how harsh life is in Eritrea and describe unspeakable acts that the military committed against citizens. They make it clear that they are passionate about what they do and truly care about Eritreans.


The majority of the film takes the audience inside the station, showing plenty of equipment and the reporters in action. The documentary is well made and also includes a wonderful establishing shot that shows Parisian buildings and the Eiffel Tower. The Arc de Triomphe is also seen and there is an interesting sequence where the camera pans in slow motion through the streets of Paris at nighttime, filming buildings and roads that are out of focus. There is also a heartwarming sequence where the journalists celebrate Erena's tenth year of operation with a birthday cake.


The use of music is brief, being dramatic in the opening sequence and gentle during the end credits.


This inspiring documentary raises awareness about the terrible struggles that the people in Eritrea have to deal with. Aside from the descriptions regarding the government's brutality, it offers hope that sometime in the future things will get better.

#JasonKnight


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