Via Historical photos from the Horn of Africa "Haile Gerima (born March 4, 1946) is an Ethiopian filmmaker who lives and works in the United States. He is a leading member of the L.A. Rebellion film movement, also known as the Los Angeles School of Black Filmmakers. His films have received wide international acclaim. Since 1975, Haile has been an influential film professor at Howard University in Washington, D.C. He is best known for Sankofa (1993), which won numerous international awards.
Haile Gerima was born and raised in Gondar, Ethiopia. His father was a dramatist and playwright, who traveled across the Ethiopian countryside staging local plays. He was an important early influence.
By the time Haile graduated in 1976, he had made four films: Hour Glass (1972); Child of Resistance (1972); Bush Mama (1976); and Mirt Sost Shi Amit (also known as Harvest: 3,000 Years; 1976)
Haile is perhaps best known as the writer, producer, and director of Sankofa (1993). This dramatic tale of African resistance to slavery won international acclaim: awarded first prize at the African Film Festival in Milan, Italy; Best Cinematography at Africa's premier Festival of Pan African Countries (FESPACO); and nominated for the Golden Bear at the 43rd Berlin International Film Festival.
The film presents a brutally realistic portrayal of African slavery. The story is revealed through the eyes of Mona, a modern-day woman who is possessed by spirits and transported to the past as Shola, a house slave on the Lafayette plantation in Louisiana. The savagery and violence of the evil institution are clearly disturbing and go far beyond the safe and conventional images of slavery presented by Hollywood. Some critics panned Haile for excess brutality, but the black community responded positively and enthusiastically. The film was well received and played to full houses for many weeks in major cities.
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