Going back in time
Strolling down memory lane, in the early and mid- 19th century Ethiopia, where institutional correctional facilities and prisons did not exist, there was a strange traditional system called the Quranga that was later abolished.
In this system, if two people quarrel, both the accuser and the accused will enchained and go to the trial in the royal court. Until elders give the appropriate justice and say you are free to go they can neither untie the knot that binds them nor can they physically harm each other. Appearing at the royal court, the two will perform a traditional debate with poetic riddles at the open court to impress the elders who are judging them.
Quragna is all about tying both the accuser and the accused until appropriate judgment is passed. Based on this, a film named Quragnaye was released in 2019, produced by synergy Habesha Films and Communication.
Written and directed by Moges Tafesse, Quragnaye addresses the question: “How far would you take punishment into your own hands or wait for the system to levy the appropriate punishment?”
The story takes place in Ankober, an old town located 174kms north of Addis Ababa. Fortunately, many of the irreplaceable spaces like traditional church schools, the old palace and court, rural farms and the breathtaking landscape still exists today as they did back then.
The movie which cost some five million birr takes the audience to a time where justice and law were handed down in unique and strange ways.
“One day I was reading a history book and there was this word “Quragna” and it keeps coming to my mind I keep wondering how people do this, walking together chained with the one they want dead? Then I started reading a lot about it and I found out its true then I thought this can be a great historic film; that’s how it started,” Moges said.
The movie is about a young man and his childhood sweetheart who is married. Explaining about this Moges said: "There is this young man who is in love with his childhood sweetheart; the two young lovers decide to run away together but soon they were caught by her husband. So neighbors stall the ensuing fight and an elder bind together the two men’s cloths, symbolically chaining them together and tells them they must travel to the capital to stand trial in the queen’s court.”
“The current justice system has a lot to learn from the past,” Moges says.
“As a filmmaker and as someone living in a culture where oral tradition is still prominent, my heart is full and I am excited to bring the movie to the public,” he said, adding, “The acceptance was really good; people loved it but because of fear of copyright infringement we did not take the movie to different cities.”
The film is the winner of Ethiopia’s 2019 Leza Awards for Best Film, Best Actor and Best Actress and Alem Cinema’s 2019 Best Film Award.
On Friday December 5, 2019, Synergy Habesha Films and Communication together with Habesha View has signed a promotion and production agreement to distribute Quragnaye film worldwide. It is the first of its kind.
“We are delighted to be the international distributor of Enchained and taking the film on tour to North America and have it premiered in New York as part of the New York Diaspora International Film Festival on December 11 and 15 and to Washington DC on December 12,” Tigist Kebede, Habesha View founder, said.
“We took the film to London last week and this week the film will be screened in Washington DC and New York,” she added.
Tigist called on filmmakers who work on original and historic pictures to work with them. “We were not able to have any contact so far, so if one has an original story like this we are more than happy to work with them,” she said.
Moges on his side said “We are happy to get an Ethiopian distributor; I believe we will do so much more with them.”
Habesha View was founded in 2015 to fulfill a clear need to provide high quality and readily accessible TV programs to the Ethiopian and Eritrean diaspora communities around the world having an estimated population of over six million.
Habesha View’s content includes live TV, documentaries, drama, kids programs, lifestyle shows, which is available to watch on iOS, android, Apple TV, Roku and PC.