Just another weblog

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.

Q. Teza’s main character, Anberber, experiences nightmares reflecting back to the chaotic years in Ethiopia following the overthrow of Emperor Haile Selassie. Do you think this painful memory is also collectively shared by Anberber’s generation in the Diaspora?


HG: Oh, Certainly. In fact, a lot of people would ask me, “Is it biographical?” I say, no it is a collective experience. It’s a stolen story of a whole lot of people. So the generation that this film speaks to is an idealistic generation, who were sent abroad by governments or by personal ambition, to bring the tonic that would transform their society. Therefore, you have a generation that was leaving the country as if they were sent to go and bring the medicine and cross the river and comeback. Yet, the journey is more complex. When you cross the Atlantic and the threshold of the so-called modern society, you enter in to a new orbit and your journey becomes more complicated. For me, and especially my generation of Ethiopians of the 1970’s and late 60’s, this is the dilemma that dramatized even their well-intended political dream into a nightmare. So it is a generational, I would say, biography.

Q. What memories do you have of that time? Are they reflected in your film?

HG: Well I would say, how genuine young Ethiopian men and women were about changing Ethiopia. How much they cared, how much they loved their country was unquestionable, but at the same time you know you can destroy the object of love if it is possessively displaced. In other words, the dogmatic nature of that generation was such that they arrogantly thought they had the formula for transforming Ethiopia. It left them a confused generation.

Read the rest @

Trailer –


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

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: