HEART OF FIREEritrea at the beginning of the 1980s. Awet’s mother left her when she was only a little girl and now she is growing up – in the midst of the upheaval of Eritrea’s war of independence against Ethiopia – in an orphanage in Asmara where she is raised in the Catholic faith by Italian nuns. Her sense of justice is in evidence at an early age; as a young girl she is always trying to assert herself and protest against injustice.
Several years later, her father – whom she believed lost – takes her away to live with his new family. But Awet is not welcome; her father torments her and finally gives her and her sister to one of Eritrea’s liberation armies. The two girls are brought to a camp where they are to be trained as soldiers. Awet has to get used to a harsh life. Hunger, loneliness and the hard labour at the camp make it a struggle for her to survive. Awet experiences the insanity of war and is confronted with death and fanaticism. Nevertheless, thanks to her ‘heart of fire’, her courage and her conscience, she manages to find a way out of her terrible ordeal.
FEUERHERZ was made in the Eritrean language of Tirgrinya. Luigi Falorni: “When the Eritrean government refused to give us permission to film we prepared the shoot in Nairobi, because Kenya is home to the largest community of Eritrean émigrés outside Eritrea. One of the most important criteria during casting was that those in the film should have a knowledge of Tigrinya and an enduring bond to Eritrean traditions and way of life.”