21 April 2012

Haile Gerima on Independent Filmmaking

Haile Gerima was born in the town of Gondar, Ethiopia. His father, a playwright and storyteller, authored dramas about cultural or historical figures and topics, and traveled throughout Ethiopia with a theatre troupe that presented his work. The younger Gerima came to the United States in 1967 to study at Chicago's Goodman School of Drama. He received his M.F.A. in film from the University of California at Los Angeles in 1976, and has been a professor of film at Howard University in Washington DC since 1975. He established an independent distribution company, which has released several of his films, including 'Sankofa' (1993), 'Adwa' (1999) and 'Teza' (2008). In the following interview with Rob Edelman, Gerima speaks about his early films, establishing the distribution company, teaching film at Howard University, and his outlook on independent filmmaking. Rob Edelman also provided the introductory biographical material (slightly updated for this article).