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la Biennale di Venezia
Main Visual Sezione STORIA EN


70 Directors for Venice 70

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Born on March 4th 1946 in Gondar, Ethiopia, the fourth of ten children. As a youth he studied acting in his father’s theatre company, specialized in historical works from the Ethiopian cultural tradition. In 1967 he moved to the United States to study theatre at the Goodman School of Drama in Chicago, but soon realized that all the plays he was seeing had no black characters, or if they did, they were in subordinate roles. In 1969 he transferred to UCLA, where he joined the Black Power Movement, and even in his earliest works as a student he began to develop the theme of returning and travelling. His first feature-length film was Hour Glass in 1971; the following year he made Child of Resistance. In 1976 he returned to Africa to film Harvest: 3000 Years, which condemned the feudal living conditions of Ethiopian farmers, and won the Grand Jury Prize/Silver Leopard at the Locarno Film Festival. In 1976 he also began to teach at Howard University (in the Radio Television and Film Department) in Washington, D.C., the largest Afro-American university in the USA, where for many years and still today he has left his mark on many young filmmakers, leading them to explore the stories of the African diaspora from an African point of view, so unlike the commercial Hollywood perspective. In an attempt to counterbalance the distribution system, in 1982 Gerima founded Mypheduh Films (FMI), which distributed his later films (such as Ashes and Embers, After Winter: Sterling Brown, Sankofa, Imperfect Journey) and those of other Afro-American or African filmmakers. With the same intent, in 1996 he opened the Sankofa Video Bookstore in Washington. Self-production and self-distribution have made Gerima a truly independent militant director. He has participated twice in the Venice Film Festival: in 1999 with the documentary film Adwa, the story of the victory of the Ethiopian patriots over Italian colonial powers in the historic battle of Adua in 1896, and in 2008 with his masterpiece Teza, which won the Special Jury Prize and the Osella for Best Director.
1999 – Adwa – Nuovi Territori section (subject, screenplay, direction)
2008 – Teza – In Competition (screenplay, direction)

2008 – Teza – Special Jury Prize, Osella for Best Screenplay to Haile Gerima

2009 – Jury Debut Work (President)


70 Directors for Venice 70