crumbs_2Year: 2015
Director: Miguel Llanso
Writer(s): Miguel Llanso
Region of Origin: Ethiopia
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Rating: N/A
Color, 68 mins

Synopsis: A man embarks on a surreal journey that will take him across the Ethiopian post apocalyptic landscape in search of a way to get on the hovering spacecraft that for years has become a landmark in the skies. (Source)

Crumbs is Ethiopia’s quiet, contemplative answer to the post apocalyptic genre. Though far removed from the massive stunts of Mad Max or the political metaphor of District 9, both films’ impact can be felt, as well as the philosophical influence of Andrei Tarkovsky. Slow, methodical and intimate, the film examines a world where nature has taken over, studying the transience of mankind and the artifacts we might leave behind once we’re gone. Told amidst a culturally unique backdrop, Miguel Llanso’s film is so delightfully bizarre, and not without it’s fair share of wit that you’ll be hard pressed to see anything else like it this year. Lacking the high budget spectacle of its predecessors, it more than makes up for this with it’s blazing originality and heart.

Sometime in the future, after a great war, the world lies in ruins. Steel machinations are spread throughout empty landscapes and an alien ship hovers aimlessly in the sky. Candy (Daniel Tadesse) and Birdy (Selam Tesfaye) squat in a dilapidated bowling alley, but strange occurrences have begun to manifest, and they can’t shake the uneasy presence they feel coming from the ship above. Fearing that he may one day be unable to be an adequate suitor for Birdy in this world’s unforgiving environment, Candy sets off to visit a Witch to ask for guidance, and to find someone named Santa Claus, who can grant him a wish. Along his nearly dialogue-free journey, he encounters a myriad of artifacts from our past, crumbs from a civilization that once was, which now hold new meaning and a key to a forgotten world.

On the surface, the film paints a love story at the end of the world, but what is fascinating about it is the way Llanso uses our past to show us our future. Though it’s not something that focuses on the grimdark fetish of modern culture, it’s a stirring, artful look at the things that outlive us and the ways their meaning is twisted and re-shaped to fit a culture that discovers them without their true meaning. Here, a Ninja Turtle action figure is used as a good lucky charm, a Michael Jackson record is used for currency, and toy swords are thought to have been one of the last few works of art before the war. Seeing such iconic, mundane ephemera represent new iconography is poignant and even profound, illustrating the value we ascribe to meaningless objects, and a quirky journey for Candy as he tries to find the meaning of the world he now lives in.

crumbs_1Visually, Israel Seoane’s grainy, naturalistic cinematography is integral to create the atmosphere of Llanso’s future. There are beautiful panoramic shots of an empty world lost to either lush greens or barren deserts, and while conceptually, it may not seem different that your average post apocalyptic film, Llanso somewhat injects all of it with new meaning, evoking a Tarkovsky-ian approach to rich world building.

The plot more or less stays with actor Daniel Tadesse for the majority of the film, and he’s the icing to it’s dense production design and the accessible embodiment of the film’s ideas. There’s a charm and accessibility to him that is understated, and he’s great at carrying the film even when he doesn’t have much to say.

Crumbs shows us a world where context and meaning are not fully decipherable, but also not lost. Here, a civilization picks up where we left off and finds their own meaning. It’s a clever reminder of how nothing lasts for ever, and neither is it meant to. Director Miguel Llanso gets points for taking a well worn genre and showing it to us in a new way, one that is intimate and striking.