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Young Asalif and his mother are displaced from their farmland on the outskirts of Addis Ababa. To fight for their livelihood, Asalif taps into his fantasy of becoming a hero. The farmers must give way to growing suburbs and watch the buildings take shape. They are reminded in small and big ways that their country’s dream of “progress” is not for them. To fight back against those casting him out and those threatening his mother’s safety, Asalif taps into a fantasy of becoming his hero: the lion (“anbessa” in Amharic). Asalif uses his imagination to battle forces beyond his control. Through a coming-of-age story, ANBESSA captures one boy taking on modernization on his own terms, revealing a unique and magical perspective on the myth of “progress” that entraps us all.