Ethiopian film maker, Haile Gerima, does it again

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It came as no surprise when “Teza” was awarded with the first prize at the 21st Festival of Cinema and Television of Ouagadougou (FESPACO), Saturday. The film directed by Ethiopian film-maker, Haile Gerima, has already been awarded in Venice and Carthage, where he received the Golden Tanit. In Ouagadougou, capital of Burkina Faso, the audience and jury, in a rare display unanimity, agreed to honour the Ethiopian film-maker once again.

The FESPACO Jury, chaired by Burkinabe director Gaston Kabore, on Saturday 7 March, awarded the movie “Teza”, by Ethiopian filmmaker Haile Gerima, with the Etalon d’or de Yennenga, the highest award of the just ended festival.

“Teza” or hope is the story of Anberber, a young Ethiopian who is fanatically involved in Marxist theories. He leaves his native Ethiopia to study in Germany. Whilst there, he nourishes the mad dream to return to his country to eradicate all evil. The film, through numerous flashbacks, tells the story of both a tumultuous and exciting experience, which is also that of all Ethiopia: Mengistu’s regime’s reign of terror and economic chaos, the difficult social integration of the country’s elite, as well as the hope for a new Ethiopia.

Talking about the period of indecision and uncertainty that had plunged his intellectual and spiritual adventure, Cheick Hamidou Kane, Senegalese writer, confessed to having written ambiguous adventures to exorcise himself of this situation. The same could be said for Haile Gerima, who through the character of Anderber, embarks on his own cathartic introspection, as a victim of racism in an interminable exile.

The jury also awarded the Etalon d’argent (the silver prize) to South African director, John Kani, for his film “Nothing but the truth”. Kani’s film, which revolves around post-apartheid, tells the story of a South African librarian known as Sipho. Sipho is depicted as someone who remains illusionary about the new South Africa as he seeks a promotion at work.

Algerian director, Lyes Salem, was awarded the third prize for his film “Masquerade”. Lyes Salem’s film addresses the meaning of marriage as a determining force in the social status of women. Meckbel Mounir is a girl whose independence of mind and attitude offends several people in her village. This attitude provokes a general desire for her to grow into an old maid. She returns from a party tipsy, one day, to announce that she has finally found her match. The whole village gets together to organise her wedding which does not take place because the husband…

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