“I’ve seen So Much,” (Ethiopia, 2017) is an award-winning documentary short (5 min) celebrating the story of Sintayehu Tesale, an very unusual Ethiopian carpenter.
Sintayehu Tesale is an Ethiopian carpenter. But not only. He is an inspiring person; one of those who leave a mark on you when you meet him. He is persevering, he is positive, he boosts your strength, he encourages you to stand up. He is, in summary, a motivational person. Maybe, part of this strength comes from his own struggles, from his own experience, from the fact that he is one of the few carpenters in the world who does not use his hands, but his feet, due to an undiagnosed disability. This is the story of Sintayehu, the story of his life.
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“Gonzalo Guajardo’s short documentary “I’ve Seen So Much” begins with a close-up of a nail being hammered into a plank. What makes this common action distinct is seeing both hammer and nail confidently held by two pairs of toes. Possessor of these nimble extremities is film subject Ethiopian carpenter Sintayehu Tesale. An unknown disease left the carpenter at birth able to move only his feet. Yet today he saws lumber with a circular saw, pours juice at the breakfast table, and also has a family.
Guajardo keeps his portrait of this unique subject from devolving into ableist claptrap. The director’s presence is limited to minimally explaining the contexts of Tesale’s story. The humbly inspirational lessons of Tesale’s existence come directly from the film subject rather than being made by directorial voiceover. “I’ve Seen So Much”’s brevity helps make its moving points without drowning the viewer in sentimentality. A nice human interest story, overall.”
Written by Peter Wong