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Depot Asmara - A Story of Eritrea's Railway
A train driver and mechanic lovingly maintain an old steam railway in Eritrea, revealing their country's past.
In 1991, Eritrea emerged from a 30-year war of liberation from Ethiopia, a conflict that left its mark on the country's landscape and is still deeply felt by many.
After it gained its independence in 1993, its steam railway, built during the Italian colonial period, was put back into operation.
Currently being shown by Al Jazeera as part of its Witness series.
Depot Asmara - A Film by Beatrice Moeller
Eritrea, a small country in the Horn of Africa. The former Italian colony has been through a thirty-year war of liberation that has left its marks - on the people and their landscape. In 1993 Eritrea finally gained independence from Ethiopia. A celebrated new beginning, even if the reconstruction of the country has come to a standstill. However, the most important achievement of the colonial period was immediately put back into operation: the steam railway, which already a hundred years ago connected the capital Asmara in the highlands with the port city Massawa on the Red Sea. The notion of national unity is the long-awaited pride of a free Eritrea. Meanwhile it is quiet in the railway depot of Asmara. The wind sweeps through the cracks of the ailing outer walls and makes cobwebs float back and forth in the same spot. From time to time a railway worker walks over the rails. In this lethargic, semi-darkness we explore the microcosms of the railway company. We get to know Hinza, the young train driver, and Fezahatsion, the old chief mechanic who experienced the glorious times of the railway. Little by little, the poetic images intensify and draw a picture of today's Eritrea: a picture of standstill, a picture of passion for the ancient steam railway, a picture of rebellion against its decay, but above all a picture of deep friendship. - Film Five

Al Jazeera
Witness: Season 14, Episode 23 - First shown 8 November 2020
Depot Asmara
A Film by Beatrice Moeller
2019, Tigrigna with English subtitles
24 mins
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