How Long Can a Paper Boat Float?

The memoir that inspired our short that inspires our upcoming feature.





Our Story

We were both wandering souls who had come to feel so much at home in Addis Ababa. And yet it was by complete chance that we stumbled into another. Thus Ethiopian-American Abezash Tamerat met me, Gonzalo Guajardo, Spanish by birth and Ethiopian by heart. That was in 2016.

Though only in her mid-30s, she was writing her memoirs. What she had been through turned out to be harrowing, shocking, tearful, yet also profoundly inspiring. I was blown away and wanted to take it to the screen. So much happened since then. We married, had two kids, went to Los Angeles to pursue a Master’s Degree in Filmmaking, and finally madre this short film as a foretaste of a larger format that we hope to bring to life in the years to come.


Rahel has come from early childhood in rural Ethiopia to becoming an intensely devoted student at a top art school in the US. She has just been recognized for her talent and rewarded with an invitation to prepare her first-ever solo exhibition.

As she is immersed in the creation process, an old friend knocks on the studio door, eager to celebrate this first milestone in Rahel’s career. But why can’t she bring herself to sign her own artwork? The old friend knows only too well where the sore point is. Rahel is haunted by her own surname, yet has a much stronger reason not to change it.

This dilemma evokes Rahel’s memories of when the old friend was her academic advisor at high school. By then, Rahel had managed to adapt to America, but not to the dark despair of being in the grip of a dysfunctional family.


Paper Boats is having a well-travelled festival itinerary in every continent. If you are a programmer and would like to consider our film, feel free to request a media pass.




Film students & pros working together.


Ethiopian and US talent makes a unique ensemble.


Images directly extracted from the film.


Behind the scenes: how the short was made.

What’s next?

“We moved to California, which meant a big investment of time, energy and money. With the support of many, we pulled this short off. We can’t stop now; the time has come and that’s the one thing we are confident about: this story needs to be told and we are making this feature.”

Gonzalo & Abezash