Ethiopian Cinema - Film Screenings at The Africa Hall

The recently established Africa Institute in Sharjah will host a series of events focusing on Ethiopia titled “Ethiopia: Modern Nation - Ancient Roots” through a series of talks, exhibitions, performances and film screenings. The events will take place in The Africa Hall in Sharjah between now and May 2020. The list of events and details can be found here.

For this post I will focus on the film screenings which I am looking forward to the most. All the screenings are free to attend and will take place at The Africa Hall at 6.00pm in Sharjah. The following text is from the event brochure.

Imaging Ethiopia: Film Festival

Compared to a long and robust history of literary, visual, and performing arts, film in Ethiopia is a recent cultural development. While famous cinema houses like Empire and Ambassador in Addis Ababa were built during the reign of Emperor Haile Selassie, and albeit under heavy censorship, continued during the Derg years, they screened almostexclusively foreign films.

It is only in the last 20 years that an Ethiopian film industry has come into existence, making films made by Ethiopians for Ethiopians a popular art form. Ethiopian films are now screened not only in various cinemasin the country’s major cities, they are also widely distributed on DVD domestically and abroad for the Ethiopian diaspora market. Moreover, there have been a number of films madeby diaspora Ethiopians that have enjoyed critical acclaim and recognition.

A filmmaker like Haile Gerima, for example, is considered not only one of the most important Ethiopian filmmakers, but also a pioneering independent black filmmaker in the United States. With this film series, our aim is to show the range of contemporary Ethiopian films—features, documentaries, shorts—which stand out for their remarkable aesthetic quality as well as their penetrating analysis of Ethiopian political and cultural life. Among the pressing themes these films ask us to consider include: the divide between rural and urban Ethiopia; the demands for gender equality; the turbulent years of the Ethiopian revolution; and the experience of diaspora, all of which are themes that resonate deeply in our contemporary world.

Saturday, October 26 at 6.00pm
Location: Africa Hall

Teza (dir. Haile Gerima, 2008, 140 min)

Teza, set in Ethiopia and Germany, chronicles the return of the African intellectual Anberber to his country of birth during the repressive Marxist regime of Haile Mariam Mengistu and the recognition of his own displacement and powerlessness at the dissolution of his people’s humanity and social values.

After Anberber spends several years in Germany studying medicine, he returns to Ethiopia only tond the country of his youth replaced by turmoil. His dream ofusing his craft to improve the health of Ethiopians is squashed by a military junta that uses scientists for their own political ends.

Seeking the comfort of his countryside home, Anberbernds no shelter from violence. The solace that the memoriesof his youth provide is quickly replaced by the competing forces of the military and rebelling factions. Anberber must determine if he can bear the strain or piece together a life from the fragments that lay around him.


Saturday, November 2 November 23 at 6.00pm
Location: Africa Hall

Lamb (dir. Yard Zeleke, 2015, 94 min)

When Ephraim, an Ethiopian boy, is sent from his homeland to live with distant relatives, he takes his beloved sheep with him. One day, his uncle announces that he willhave to sacri ce his sheep for the upcoming religious feast,but Ephraim is ready to do anything to save his only friend and return home.


Saturday, November 30 at 6.00pm
Location: Africa Hall

Difret (dir. Zeresenay Mehari, 2014, 99 min)

From executive producer Angelina Jolie Pitt comes the award-winning drama Difret, based on the inspirational true story of a young Ethiopian girl and a tenacious lawyer embroiled in a life-or-death clash between cultural traditions and their country’s advancement of equal rights.

When 14-year-old Hirut is abducted in her rural village’s tradition of kidnapping women for marriage, sheghts back, accidentally killing her captor and intendedhusband. Local law demands a death sentence for Hirut, but Meaza, a tough and passionate lawyer from a women’s legalaide practice, steps in to ght for her.

With both Hirut’s lifeand the future of the practice at stake the two women must make their case for self-defense against one of Ethiopia’s oldest and most deeply-rooted traditions. DIFRET paints a portrait of a country in a time of great transformation and the brave individuals ready to help shape it.


Saturday, January 11 at 6.00pm
Location: Africa Hall

Va’ Pensiero - Walking Stories (dir. Dagmawi Yimer, 2013, 56 min)


Va’ Pensiero – Walking stories is an interwoven account of two racist attacks in Milan and Florence and the victims’ painful attempts to piece the fragments of their lives back together.

In central Milan, Mohamed Ba, a 50 year old senegalese griot (bard), actor and teacher and resident inItaly for 14 years, is knifed in broad daylight on May 31, 2009. In Florence, residents Mor e Cheikj, also immigrants fromSenegal, are beaten on December 31, 2011 whilst working in the San Lorenzo market.

This powerful account brings together the overlapping stories of the three protagonists’ ordeal and their enduring hope of building a life in Italy, despite the fear and uncertainty of suddenly being plunged back to the moment of the attacks by one look or gesture. The director Dagmawi Yimer, a refugee from Ethiopia, shows us what violence looks like through the eyes of the victim.


Tuesday, March 10
Location: Africa Hall

Berea (dir. Nesanet Teshager Abegaze, 2019, 7 min)

Bereka by Nesanet Teshager Abegaze.jpg

Bereka is a family history archive as told by matriarch Azalu Mekonnen and her granddaughter Samira Hooks. Shot on Super 8 in Los Angeles and Gondar, Bereka captures the Ethiopian coffee ceremony andexplores migration, memory and rebirth. The film was hand-processed by Nesanet at the Echo Park Film Center.


Wednesday, March 11
Location: Africa Hall

Ye Wonz Maibel: Deluge (dir. Salem Mekuria 1997, 61 min)

Ye Wonz Maibel: Deluge is a personal visual meditation on history, con ict and the roads to reconciliation. It is a tale of love and betrayal, of idealism and the lure of power. It is a memorial to a brother who disappeared and a best friend, executed. It is a story of the Ethiopian students, their “Revolution” and its aftermath – a brutal military dictatorship.


Saturday, March 21 at 6.00pm
Location: Africa Hall

Guzo (dir. Aida Ashenafi, 2009, 138 min)

Guzo_Journey by Aida Ashenafi.jpg

Aida Ashena recounts the experiences of two residents of Addis Ababa , who for the first time in their life, will spend 20 days in the country, in a small village near Debre Berhan, in Ethiopia.


Saturday, May 1 at 6.00pm
Location: Africa Hall

Twilight Revelations: Episodes in the Life and Times of Emperor Haile Selassie
(dir. Yemane Demissie, 2009, 58 min)

Twilight Revelations: Episodes in the Life and Times of Emperor Haile Selassie explores and analyzes watershed events during the reign of the Ethiopian emperor. Using a wealth of archival footage and photographs, the film reexamines the imperial administration through the eyes of numerous individuals who played important roles in the monarchy.

The featured witnesses include attorneys, ministers of education, information and planning, a general, a Supreme Court justice, members of the royal family, the Emperor’s favorite pilot, parliamentarians, high-ranking civil servants, and members of the imperial household. The observations and narratives of these individuals shed new light on thepersonality, leadership style and humanity of the last and final Ethiopian emperor.