DIRECTOR: Ameha Molla | PRODUCER: Rajal Pitroda
Secrets have been woven into the fabric of my family. I remember being nine years old, sitting at the kitchen table with my mother, when I asked her what I thought was an innocent question. “The happiest day of my life?” she repeated back to me. “It was the day your uncle Kiflu came to America.” I may have been too young to know at that moment, but this was my first insight into a series of family secrets and stories that had been hidden for decades. In the years that followed, I tried to learn more about my uncle’s story, but answers were few and far between. It wasn’t until a spring day in 2011, that I finally understood the meaning behind my mother’s response. On this day, my mother called to tell me that Kiflu was the lead witness in an FBI investigation against a suspected former war criminal from Addis Ababa, who killed over 200 people during Ethiopia’s government sponsored genocide, known as the Red Terror.
Growing up, I felt the weight of this family secret, and the distance it placed between us. Learning more about Kiflu’s story gave me context to my childhood, my community and my place as a first-generation Ethiopian-American immigrant. But most importantly of all, learning about my uncle’s past connected me more authentically and more openly to my family. It felt like at last, we could truly know each other. I am making this film for families like mine, those who have struggled to confront the trauma of their pasts, and to unburden themselves from the secrets that have forced them to live as strangers for so long.