A brief version of the story goes… Ethiopia, September 1974, Emperor Haile Selassie was ousted by a pro-communist military junta who then installed a totalitarian-style government run by Colonel Mengistu Haile Mariam. Communism was officially adopted, and as a result, the new regime gradually began to embrace anti-religious and anti-Israeli stances, which meant hostility towards then Jews of Ethiopia (Beta Israel, also known as Ethiopian Jews). Concerned for the fate of the Ethiopian Jews, the Israeli government officially recognized the Beta Israel community as Jews in 1975, for the purpose of the “Law of Return” (essentially an act that grants Jews all over the world the right to *return* to Israel). In the early 1980s, Ethiopia went through a series of famines and civil wars. As a result, the lives of hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians, including the Beta Israel community, were on unstable ground, with many fleeing to neighboring Sudan. The Israeli government would then step in to assist, and in several covert military operations, eventually rescued much of the Beta Israel population (Ethiopian Jews), *returning* them to Israel – operations that continued throughout much of the 1980s.
And now, a film based on one of those rescue operations is in development at Fox Searchlight.
The studio has acquired a pitch from Gideon Raff (“Tyrant” executive producer and co-creator), who will write and direct the film based on the 1981 “Opeartion Brothers” rescue of Ethiopian Jews and their relocation to Israel.
Comparisons to Ben Affleck’s 2013 Oscar-winning “Argo” (the fictionalized account of the CIA’s 1980 rescue of 6 Americans during the US hostage crisis in Iran) are being made.
Alexandra Milchan will co-produce the film with Gideon Raff.
The project is still in very early stages, so there aren’t any other details to be shared at this point.