Chigger Ale


Reviewed by: Rebecca Naughten

Chigger Ale
"Beyoncé is one of several out-of-place symbols within the film and although her juxtaposition with Hitler is undoubtedly amusing, she retains her original 'meaning' (empowerment)."

A comedic sci-fi short set in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Chigger Ale shows a diminutive man (Daniel Tadesse) - referred to as 'Hitler' - trying to blend in with the local culture while dressed anachronistically in a Nazi uniform. Far from bestowing authority on him, the uniform instead marks Hitler out for the mockery and pranks of the locals - a sequence of events wherein he has his chair pulled away, his fake moustache is ripped off, and a game of keepaway is played with his military cap reduces him to exasperated tears by the time he heads home.

The camera alternates between staying at Hitler's level - or lower, to make him seem taller when he feels in control of a situation - and shots that instead emphasise his small stature, as in the sudden high angle shot that looks down on the hand of the woman triumphantly clutching Hitler's moustache above his reach. The number of close-ups make him our point of identification, as we're close enough to see the small smile when he initially declines to dance, the tremble of his lower lip when his CDs are crushed by an officious policeman, or his delight as he wholeheartedly throws himself into singing one of Beyoncé's empowering anthems, abruptly standing up and flinging his arms open wide with the emotion of the song.

Copy picture

Beyoncé is one of several out-of-place symbols within the film and although her juxtaposition with Hitler is undoubtedly amusing, she retains her original 'meaning' (empowerment) within the context of the scene. In contrast, other symbols are made strange by their appearance in this other culture - for example, Hitler salutes a poster of footballer Cristiano Ronaldo with a "Heil Hitler!" Likewise, the Nazi regalia is largely divorced from its original meanings - although the fact that Hitler tries to take revenge by gassing the club perhaps suggests a certain unconscious through-line of thought on his part - instead standing for a faintly ridiculous, failed authority. In fact the juxtaposition of Hitler's fake moustache (carefully reapplied with double-sided sticky tape) with the character's sympathetic nature and generally comic haplessness brings to mind Charlie Chaplin's Little Tramp.

Although Crumbs director Miguel Llansó is only listed as Chigger Ale's producer and editor, the fact that the short is in many ways a precursor for Crumbs - and shares most of the technical crew (including cinematographer Israel Seoane) and its lead actor - suggests that Llansó can be taken to be one of the figures behind the pseudonymous 'Fanta Ananas'. The storyline and characters are obviously different, but the two films have a similar blend of humour, sci-fi and visual flair.

Reviewed on: 07 May 2015
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Chigger Ale packshot
One night a pintpot Hitler clone goes to Fendika, a grassroots tavern in Addis Ababa...

Director: Fanta Ananas

Writer: Fanta Ananas

Starring: Daniel Tadesse

Year: 2013

Runtime: 11 minutes

Country: Ethiopia, Spain


D'A Festival 2015

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