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400 Miles to Freedom

Africa, Religion, Jewish Film, Human Rights, Israel
Avishai Yeganyahu Mekonen and Shari Rothfarb Mekonen
60 minutes


Release year: 2012
Countries of Origin: United States, Israel
Languages: English, Hebrew, Amharic
Genre: documentary


*World Premiere New York Jewish Film Festival

*Official Selection San Francisco Jewish Film Festival

*Official Selection Toronto Jewish Film Festival

*Platinum Remi Award World-Fest Houston

*Official Selection Africa World Documentary Festival

Shari Rothfarb and Avishai Mekonen explore the exodus of Jews from Ethiopia to Israel through the story of Mekonen's personal experience. Recommended.
Video Librarian



"That night I just remember running. No time to catch your breath, just running, because you want to be gone from the village before the sun comes up." -Avishai Mekonen, 400 MILES TO FREEDOM

In 1984, the Beta Israel, a secluded 2,500-year-old community of observant Jews in the northern Ethiopian mountains, fled a dictatorship and began a secret and dangerous journey of escape. Co-director Avishai Mekonen, then 10 years old, was among them. In this film, he breaks his 20-year silence about the brutal kidnapping he endured as a child in Sudan during his community's exodus out of Africa. This life-defining event launches an inquiry into identity, leading him to African, Asian and Latino Jews in Israel and the U.S.



AVISHAI YEGANYAHU MEKONEN'S work includes the award-winning documentary VIDEO FLOUR, screened widely at international film festivals and broadcast on Israel's Channel 1. He has directed and written (GENERATIONS OF A FAMILY, ANCHOR and HOTHOUSE, broadcast on Israel's Channels 1 & 2), produced (MENELIK), assistant directed (CARAVAN 841), acted (lead role, LAYLA B'ADDIS), and crewed numerous Israeli and American dramatic, documentary and news programs. For his recent photography/video project SEVEN GENERATIONS he was a recipient of the Six Points Fellowship, a partnership of JDub Records, Avoda Arts, and the Foundation for Jewish Culture, made possible with major funding from UJA-Federation of New York. Focusing on an Ethiopian oral history custom while examining the relationships between the elder and younger generations of Ethiopian Jews in Israel, the project has been presented as solo exhibitions in New York and Philadelphia.

SHARI ROTHFARB MEKONEN, director of the award-winning short films FUR and OCEAN AVENUE, featured in over fifty international film festivals including the Los Angeles Independent Film Festival, AFI Los Angeles International Film Festival, and Women in the Director's Chair, is a professor of video at CUNY/BMCC, where she is the interim chair of the Media, Arts & Technology Department and writer/director of its National Science Foundation grant, CREATING CAREER PATHWAYS FOR WOMEN AND MINORITIES IN DIGITAL VIDEO TECHNOLOGY.

Be'chol Lashon

Imagine a new global Judaism that transcends differences in geography, ethnicity, class, race, ritual practice, and beliefs. Discussions about who-is-a-real-Jew will be replaced with celebration of the rich, multi-dimensional character of the Jewish people. Be'chol Lashon (In Every Tongue), a non-profit organization based in San Francisco, California grows and strengthens the Jewish people through ethnic, cultural, and racial inclusiveness. Be'chol Lashon executive produced the film, 400 Miles to Freedom, to bring awareness and discussion about Jewish diversity to a larger audience.

7th Art is working with Be'chol Lashon to bring the film and engaging speakers to interested organizations. To book speakers for a screening along with the screening, contact Danielle at the Be'chol Lashon Speakers Bureau: / 415-386-2604.

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400 Miles to Freedom is available to educational institutions and is suitable for universities, colleges, and high school-level learning applicable in the following areas:

Human Rights
Religious Studies
Jewish Studies
African Studies
African American Studies
Latino Studies
Asian Studies

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