Ethiopian film takes top prize at Africa film festival – OUAGADOUGOU (AFP)

March 7th, 2009 Print Print Email Email

The Ethiopian film “Teza” by director Haile Gerima took the Golden Stallion of Yennenga on Saturday for best film at the Pan-African Film and Television Festival. (more…)

The Ethiopian film “Teza” by director Haile Gerima took the Golden Stallion of Yennenga on Saturday for best film at the Pan-African Film and Television Festival.

The jury’s unanimous pick for top honours, “Teza” deals with the brutal regime of dictator Haile Mariam Mengistu in the 1970s and 1980s.

It revolves around an idealistic scientist who returns to Ethiopia during the Mengistu regime. Beautifully filmed, “Teza” switches between present and past in a series of flashbacks between protagonists time studying in Germany in the 1970s, Ethiopia in the 1980s and the present.

It deals with big themes — emigration, return, dictatorship, racism, war and the position of women — without getting preachy.

Gerima was not present in Ouagadougou to collect the award, so his sister Selome Gerima, who co-produced the film, accepted it on his behalf.

Speaking to AFP on Friday, she said she and her brother had worked 14 years to bring the epic story to the screen.

“When Haile does a film he is very serious. He does very broad research. Then, after the shoot, he edits himself and creates his own soundtrack,” she explained.

The film premiered in Ethiopia on January 3 to sold-out audiences and is still drawing in the crowds. There has been an emotional response to the story, she explained.

“It is a very sensitive film and it makes you remember what it was like (under Megistu). Many people have forgotten but when they see the film they remember. When we show the film people come up to us afterwards to tell us, ‘I’ve lost my brother’ and so on,” Gerima said.

The awards ceremony marked the official closing of the 21st edition of Africa’s biggest film festival also known as FESPACO.

The second-place Silver Stallion went to South-Africa’s John Kani for “Nothing but the Truth”. Adapted from a play, it explores a librarian’s experiences with racism in South Africa during and after the apartheid era.

The Bronze Stallion went to audience favourite “Mascarades” (Masquerades), an Algerian comedy about a boy who invents an imaginary rich suitor for his narcoleptic sister.

  1. Binyam
    | #1

    I am glad Haile got the African Award. During my stay in Ethiopia, I was puzzled why the Ethiopian government attaked him and his work. As usual, he was courageous defending himself using their own state controlled media. Bravo Haile.

  2. Anonymous
    | #2

    I watched the film in Addis and I admit it is great!

    However, I am not too sure about the historical accuracy of the scene where the doctor was being chopped by the ‘comrades’ of the epoch using machetes. Even if we claim it is a writers representation of the cruelty, I would say the atrocities to be reported ‘as is’ would be horrible enough …

    IMHO, being a native Amharic speaker, I did not like the flow of the language as well. The script sounds more of a translation from a foreign language to Amharic. I wonder if this is due to the fact that, the film was written – directed – produced by the same?

    I am obliged to have these opinion after hearing the extensive interview that Dr. G gave on the local stations in Amharic.

    On a positive note, the techniques manifested through such a quality production is an excellent benchmark for the African film industry. It is my prayer that my fellow Africans, Ethiopians in particular will learn to spare the time it takes to deliver a proper production. Often, the market is filled with lots of still-birth stuffs.

    Looking forward to the next GREATER thing.

  3. Just for Binyam
    | #3

    Is he going to produce a film about woyane’s systematic killing of Ethiopians or he just wants to wait till they came down from power. Haile girema was the most resist and selfish person we know. He does not even claim himself as an Ethiopian when he tell the outsider. He has been known telling he is just Gondere. I told him myself how could you say that? this should not expected from him. By the way he had been a prowoyane guy till we know. I donot know what happen betweeen him and woyanne NOW? He must not getting what he wants from woyanne resently.

  4. Yelekal Egzeabher
    | #4

    congegulation Ato Haile. I hope we will get a chance to see the film here in America.

  5. Tilahun
    | #5

    Woyana hate haile because he is an Amehara and an intellectual. When will woyana let go Ego? Ever since, they have been in deep-rooted frustration and inferiority complex and their defense mechanism is pretending superior. Insult, disrespect and reduce the great Ethiopian like Haile Gerima who strives in their capacity in art and science to put Ethiopia in the world stage. They wish he made a move about their struggle about killing their own people, which they are always proud of. …nauseating!!!

  6. mojo
    | #6

    ወረኛ አትስራና የሰራ ሰው ተሳደብ ወያኔወች መቸም ፈሪወች ናችሁ ነገም ለኔ ነውንና ፈስ ያለው ዝላይ አይችልም እንደተባለው ሁሉ የናንተም ጉድ ነገ ይወጣል መንግስቱ አንድ ነገር ጥሩ ቢኖረው አገሩን ይወዳል እናንተ ምኑም ነገር የላችሁበትም BINYAM አትቅዘን እናትህ ሆደ ተመልሰህ አትገባም ቆዳ HAILE GERIMA የኢትዮጵያኖች መኩሪያ ነው እንወድዋለን ለአንተ አይነቱ ጭቃ ሰው ጊዜም የለውም አተላ ከገባህ ይግባህ ካልገባህ ገደል ግባ;;

  7. biniam sahele
    | #7

    this is great
    weldone my people
    keep going
    keep up
    god will help u
    god bless Ethopia

  8. ermi
    | #8

    i expect form pro. Gerima a film about the weyane`s atrocity to the ethiopian people

  9. wondaferew H
    | #9

    pro H Gerima is our history given Ethiopian on 21 first century
    he is agreat artist and film maker thouroughtthe Ethiopin moderen
    history Great man great win
    God biessyou H.Gerima

  10. Harry Massele
    | #10

    Hi My brother, Haile,

    “How Great They Are?” How are you my brother!!Gongratulation!!! I know, you can produce wonderful films about Africa in general and Ethiopia in particular. You make me proud all the time. Thank you for making my Ethiopia known all over the world by your good deeds. Here in philly, we love you especially, when you show up with your Great film, Sankofa. I still have over 100 of them. I hope I will see this new film here in Philly and have some vidios. My brother, Stay healthy and safe. I will see you whenever you come overhere. Again thank you and see you.

  11. ethiopian women
    | #11

    he is one of the people who tell it as it is ..that is why people like the person who thought he madE it ALL up and giving all that comment that he is not Ethiopian….please You even call yourself Ethiopian right? let alone this marvelous man with free nature and wonderfull films ever done in Ethiopia…one can comment on others work when that person at list does something for there ETHIOPIA “WAY TO GO MR HAILE “JOB WELL DONE

  12. Anonymous
    | #12

    M&M am proud of u Haile You make me proud i can tell the white ppl how smart we are.Gerima a film about the weyane`s atrocity to the ethiopian people God bless u GOD Bless Ethiopia

  13. BAW Frankfurt
    | #13

    ከለጅም ግዜ ጀምሮ በመልካም ስራህ ስምህ ሲነሳ ኩራቴ ወደር የልውም ነበር
    አሁንም አገርህና ሕዝብሀ የሚኮሩብህ ድንቅ አኢትዮጵያዊ ነህ…
    አምናክ ካንተጋር ነው!!

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