Ethiopia-based Director Miguel Llansó has created a debut feature that plays out less like your typical film and more like an unpredictable dream. On screen is a sparse, extraterrestrial looking Ethiopia that worships Michael Jordan, barters over "historical" Ninja Turtle figurines, and tries to figure out the mystery of the dormant spacecraft hovering above them. If there ever was a romantic, post-apocalyptic sci-fi film coming out of Ethiopia that was full of characters hell bent on obtaining pop cultural artifacts, avoiding second generation Nazis and finding Santa Clause, this would be it. An imaginative quest of a film that is certainly a mouthful to even describe, you may be asking yourself, "What did I just watch?", and though far from perfect, the unique edge of this film may be enough to quell your confusions.
Our view of this post-apocalyptic world, after the big war, comes through the eyes of Candy (played by Llansó favorite, Daniel Tadesse), the film's petite, slumped hero that believes he comes from another land. As he embarks on a journey to find a way onboard the reactivated spacecraft in the sky, we see him travel through a world both deeply profound and nonsensical, in order to find a way to what he believes is his true home. The country's landscape is disarming and used to its greatest potential, with Daniel Tadesse’s Candy working at drawing us even more into this crumbling world. His lover, Birdy (newcomer Selam Tesfaye), is with child and waits for him at home, biding her growing anxieties in a dilapidated bowling alley. Supplementing their story are segments within the film regarding a cocky "antiques dealer". We are introduced to his bartering intermittently throughout Candy's journey, learning the "histories" and anecdotes behind various cheap pop cultural artifacts from the past (AKA our present).
It helps to know that the film was inspired by a quote from professor Seifu Yohannes about the end of the world and how all that will remain will be "a series of cheap plastic figurines floating in the stratosphere once everything has finally exploded". "Crumbs" shows this depressing landscape well, where mankind’s hopes and dreams will cease to be of any great importance in the end. In this world, human life has lost its value. The survival of mankind is no longer a priority. Left to fend for themselves, they get by from trading random items as if they were great relics of a lost time. Like some voodoo spell, something about this hodge-podge of a film entices you into this very specific dreamscape, despite the disturbing references to what it means for our time.
If you're on the hunt for something different, away from the mainstream and rehashed, "Crumbs" may just fit the bill. With a low budget and minimal sources, Miguel Llansó was able to manifest a highly imaginative world out of the alien-like qualities of Ethiopia's landscapes. It's that simultaneously primitive yet futuristic feel that becomes the true heart of this film. Winner of the New Flesh Award for Best First Feature at the 2015 Fantasia Film Festival and nominated for the FIPRESCI Prize at the Rotterdam International Film Festival, "Crumbs" is now available in the US on VOD and DVD. Go ahead, reserve your seat on the spaceship, at least to say you did. At only 68 minutes, it's well worth the unusual ride.