Filmmaker looks at changing culture of Eritrean immigrants in RiverRun film

Filmmaker Sephora Woldu

Filmmaker looks at changing culture of Eritrean immigrants in RiverRun film
April 04
00:00 2019

By Judie Holcomb-Pack

Sephora Woldu is a first-generation Eritrean. After visiting Eritrea, a small nation of about 5 million people located in the Horn of Africa, she began to think about how different her experience as an American-born Eritrean is from the experiences of her parents, who are immigrants. That led her to write and direct the film, “Life is Fare,” which will be screened Friday, April 5 at 5:30 p.m. at the UNCSA Babcock Theatre, Saturday, April 6, at 1:30 p.m. and Monday at 1 p.m. at Aperture Cinema, as part of the RiverRun International Film Festival.

Woldu admitted her parents didn’t understand why she wanted to write this story and make this film, but they are proud of her and her film. In fact, her mother, an actress, played a significant role in the film. The film tells the story through the eyes of an Eritrean immigrant who is a cab driver in San Francisco. He is homesick for his native land and begins to look at his life and explore the differences between his life in Eritrea and what it means to be an Eritrean in America. It shows the unresolved issues of immigrants who are struggling to reconcile their newly forged American personas against the identities they left behind in their homeland.

“People who came [to America] in the 80s had a different experience from those in the 90s and beyond,” Woldu explained in a phone interview with The Chronicle. During a trip to Eritrea in 2014, she said, “I saw I had a lot to learn about Eritrea and to see how people are talking about cultures and the different way people looked at that.”

Woldu is a self-taught filmmaker and said she “decided to be a filmmaker when I decided to be Eritrean.” She has made two short films prior to the feature film “Life is Fare.” She said she made this film to explore the identities and to learn about her culture and how you fit into the daily life you have. She said, “The journey people go through is not unique.” She wanted to capture the authentic experience and show how cultures all over the world are changing and Eritreans are changing. The film explores what is culture, what is beauty, what can it be? Making the film proved to her that there is an audience for this type of film.

Woldu will be available for a Q&A after each screening. To see the trailer for “Life is Fare,” or the festival schedule which runs through April 14, visit

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