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A Conversation with Filmmaker Haile Gerima


Above: Haile Gerima, the internationally acclaimed director of
Teza, Sankofa, Adwa, Bush Mama and other feature films and
documentaries. (Photo by Gezaw Tesfaye).

Tadias Magazine
By Martha Z. Tegegn

Published: Thursday, September 17, 2009

New York (Tadias) – For filmmaker Haile Gerima the travails of life are much like moving images – “a constant journey of restlessness and complexity, until the final rest.”

Haile’s latest film Teza is set to make it U.S. premiere in Washington D.C. tonight. The film focuses on the tumultuous years of the Mengistu era, as told by an idealistic Ethiopian doctor who recounts dreams and nightmares.

Trailer –

We spoke with Haile at his Sankofa bookstore, conveniently located across from Howard University where he has been teaching film since 1975.

Continue reading


September 24, 2009 Posted by | africa, african, world cinema, film festival, entertainment, feature films, interview | , , , | Leave a comment

Africa in Motion Film Festival – Edinburgh 22 Oct to 1 Nov 2009

My-Secret-Sky4 ‘My Secret sky’ will open the festival.

Africa in Motion 2009 features 60 films from 22 African countries; shorts, documentaries and features, old and new, with over 20 UK premieres.

The festival opens with the UK premiere of the acclaimed South African feature film My Secret Sky.  Continue reading

September 22, 2009 Posted by | africa, african, world cinema, film festival | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Heart of Fire – playing at ICA (London) from Sep 25th -8,10-11 Oct


A drama about Eritrean child soldiers from the director of The Story of the Weeping Camel, inspired by the controversial memoir by Senait G Mehari.

The father of 10-year-old Awet (beautifully played by Letekidan Micael) hands her over to the Eritrean Liberation Front (known as the Jebha), where she falls under the influence of a charismatic leader, although her size prevents her from being a fully fledged part of the rebel militia. A powerful film that, by focusing on one story, attempts to represent the experiences of child soldiers everywhere.

dir Luigi Falorni, Germany/Austria 2008, 97 mins, 35mm, subtitles:
released by Metrodome: an exclusive new release

September 18, 2009 Posted by | africa, african, world cinema, film festival | , , | 3 Comments

Recovering The Rose of Rhodesia (1918)


Live streaming –

Music composed and played by Matti Bye and Kristian Holmgren.  Click here for English translation of Intertitles (Appendix B).

 Early Africa film gem goes online

Wed, 16 Sep 2009

 The Rose of Rhodesia (1918), one of the earliest feature films made in South Africa, went online on 10 September at the website of Australian film journal Screening the Past.

A five-reel romance centred on a stolen diamond, an interracial friendship, and an anti-colonial uprising, The Rose of Rhodesia impressed contemporary reviewers with its daring realism, spectacular outdoor locations, and casting of African actors in prominent roles. Considered lost for most of the last century, the film may claim to be the first fictional treatment of Zimbabwe in cinema.

Now fully restored by the Nederlands Filmmuseum, The Rose of Rhodesia is being streamed together with a new musical soundtrack by acclaimed silent film composer Matti Bye. Accompanying the film is a special issue of Screening the Past, edited by Stephen Donovan and Vreni Hockenjos, in which specialists from a range of disciplines offer the first detailed analysis of this remarkable cinematic discovery.

September 18, 2009 Posted by | africa, african, world cinema, film festival | , , | Leave a comment

Animation short – The Tale of How

Created by The Blackgang crew, South Africa.

September 18, 2009 Posted by | africa, african, world cinema, film festival | Leave a comment

The Day God Walked Away (Toronto Film Festival 2009, 18 -19 Sept.)



 “The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting.”—Milan Kundera


    The brief history of films about the 1994 Rwandan genocide seem to range wildly, from glossy Oscar bait like Hotel Rwanda to the intimate, poetic beauty of Lee Isaac Chung’s Munyurangabo to the damning documentary Shake Hands With The Devil.  But a look under the hood shows the most difficult truth about these films, whether they feature a big name movie star, a foreigner directing local non-actors or reportage on the moral failings of the international community; most of the films about the Rwandan genocide feature a distinctly Western touch and, unable to capture the emotional experience of the genocide itself, refract the issue of the Rwandan experience through the lens of something akin to post-traumatic stress disorder.

Even the brilliant Munyurangabo, which focuses on reconciliation in the years after the genocide, is only able to capture the ghostly remnants of those actual, murderous days, and Hotel Rwanda puts the murder on the other side of an iron fence, creating something akin to a Schindler’s List for the Tutsi people. Cinema has proven wholly inadequate as a substitute for memory in telling the story of the murderous rampage that took place in Rwanda.

The Day God Walked Away, directed by the Belgian cinematographer Philippe van Leeuw (making his debut), takes a massive step forward in using the language of cinema to convey the horror of the genocide.  Instead of making the genocide a pretext for grand statements about personal responsibility or the cultural and tribal conflicts that drove the Hutu majority to murder their Tutsi neighbors en masse, van Leeuw forgoes psychology, culture and the massive scale of death, distilling the genocide into the experience of a single Tutsi woman named Jacqueline (Rwandan pop star Ruth Niere, making a powerful debut).

In his writing on the film, van Leeuw describes his inspiration for the story; “In April 1992, some friends of mine returned from Rwanda following the emergency evacuation… Before they left, they hid Jacqueline, their children’s Rwandan nanny, in the attic of their house in Kigali, hoping that she would escape the massacre. They never knew what became of her.”

Thus begins van Leeuw’s film, which the imagines the genocidal experience from Jacqueline’s perspective; Hiding Anne Frank-like in a dirty attic while the Hutu militas search the home of her employers.

        Rest here:

September 17, 2009 Posted by | africa, african, world cinema, film festival | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

When will we start taking African cinema seriously?


Out of Africa … Ousmane Sembene directing Fatoumata Coulibaly in Mooladé.

Photograph: Artificial Eye

The view:

Only a handful of films from Africa have enjoyed British theatrical release in the last decade.

It feels a little quaint to be writing about African cinema at the height of another long blockbuster summer, with the studios’ big beasts hoovering up attention and everything smaller than Harry Potter parched for an audience. There again, it would feel much the same to be writing about African cinema at any point of the year. Even by the standards of the arthouse, its status as a niche interest is so pronounced that its very mention is enough, I’m sure, to have a certain section of readers rolling their eyes and muttering about the kind of thing the Guardian likes to bang on about. Continue reading

September 16, 2009 Posted by | 1 | , , | Leave a comment

The Nollywood Phenomenon – Africa’s Popular cinema

The cinema of Nigeria is an underdeveloped but nascent film industry. Although Nigerian films have been produced since the 1960s, the rise of digital cinema has resulted in a growing video film industry. The Nigerian video feature film industry is often referred to as Nollywood. The term is of uncertain date and origin, but is derived from Hollywood in the same manner as Bollywood.  According to Hala Gorani and Jeff Koinange formerly of CNN, Nigeria has a US$250 million movie industry, churning out some 200 home videos every month to become the third-largest in the world after the United States and India. In just 16 years, however, Nollywood has grown from nothing into an industry that employs thousands of people.

Nollywood Babylon is a feature documentary about the explosive popularity of Nigeria’s movie industry.

The film drops viewers into the chaos of Lagos’ Idumota market. Here, among the bustling stalls, films are sold and unlikely stars are born.

Unfazed by low budgets, enterprising filmmakers create a brash, inventive and wildly popular form of B-Movie that has Nigerians Nollywood-obsessed. In these films, voodoo and magic infuse urban stories, reflecting the collision of traditional mysticism and modern culture that Nigerians experience every day.

Nollywood Babylon presents an electric vision of a modern African metropolis and a revealing look at the powerhouse that is Nigerian cinema. Co-directed by Ben Addelman and Samir Mallal, produced by AM Pictures and National Film Board of Canada in association with the Documentary Channel. Nollywood Babylon also participated in the Official Competition at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2009.  Continue reading

September 15, 2009 Posted by | 1 | , , | Leave a comment

Africa in Motion 2009 – Edinburgh 22 Oct to 1 Nov 2009

Africa In Motion

Edinburgh Film Festival

 This year is the United Nations International Year of Reconciliation, and the festival is taking as its main theme issues of trauma, conflict and reconciliation in a pan-African context. A number of films from across the continent will address these issues, screened over the first weekend of the festival, with the film screenings accompanied by panel and audience discussions. Our symposium on the first Saturday of the festival will explore how artistic representation is used in Africa as a way to overcome trauma and find ways towards peace-making and reconciliation. As our audiences have become accustomed to, the festival will further include a wide range of brilliant feature films, old and new, and thought-provoking documentaries.

For the second year, we are hosting a short film competition for emerging African filmmakers with the winner announced at the festival and the audience getting an opportunity to vote for their favourite too. A number of African filmmakers will be in attendance to talk to audiences about their work. Performances by African musicians and a photography and painting exhibition by two South African artists will further contribute to our diverse programme.

The full programme  for 2009 will be announced in mid-September.

 Films  including Animations, short stories and feature films will be shown.  A sample of the films shown in 2008 are @  AiM Youtube channel –

September 15, 2009 Posted by | 1 | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Africa Focus for International Rotterdam festival 27 Jan – 7 Feb 2010


‘Where is Africa?’ program to look at indie African filmmaking

By Stuart Kemp Sept 10, 2009, 10:00 AM ET

LONDON — The next edition of the International Film Festival Rotterdam will include a major focus on African cinema, organizers said Thursday. Entitled “Where is Africa?,” organizers plan to unspool “the most extensive program devoted to independent African filmmaking at any Western film festival in recent years.” The 39th edition of the Dutch festival takes places Jan. 27 through Feb. 7 2010. Festival programmer Gertjan Zuilhof said: “There is no real reason to do it now other than that we maybe should have done it much earlier. It is obvious that Africa is not represented at international film festivals or if so only by one or two token films.”

September 15, 2009 Posted by | 1 | , , | Leave a comment