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post TEZA

September 1st, 2008

Filed under: Events — Lissan Magazine @ 09:40

Haile Gerima’s latest film TEZA@Biennale Venice 08

Greetingz,

Hope this finds you all well and that I did not jam anybodies mailbox. Im really sorry if I did.

I am happy to spread the word that Haile Gerimas (famous for SANKOFA) latest film TEZA will be shown at the Biennale in Venice 08, the premiere being on the 2nd of September.

tezaposter.jpg

TEZA also embraces the bond between Continental and Diasporan realities. The still much to hidden his/her stories of the African Diaspora in Germany are being embodied by the characters of Cassandra and Teodross.

Below a few extracts from the pressbook:

The idea of identity and liberation is perhaps the defining goal for me and my vision for an independent cinema. To tell one’s story is to place one’s name on the map of history and to do so while honoring the struggle of ancestors is essential to ensure that future generations have the documentation to create their own blueprint of survival. The history, culture and socio-economic well-being of all peoples of African descent is my primary concern, but above all the preservation of their humanity is the greatest motivation for me as a filmmaker.”

Haile Gerima - Biography:
“Haile is perhaps best known as the writer, producer and director of Sankofa (1993). With this historically inspired dramatic tale of African resistance to slavery he won international acclaim: he was awarded First Prize at the African Film Festival in Milan, Italy. Best Cinematography at Africa’s premier Festival of Pan African Countries known as FESPACO and competing for the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival.”

For further information, if you are interested in reporting on TEZA
feel free to contact me. Telephoninterviews with Haile Gerima can be arranged.

Synopsis
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 to find the country of his youth replaced by turmoil. His dream of using 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, Anberber finds no shelter from violence. The solace that the memories of 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.

Director’s Note
Teza provides me with the opportunity to tell the story of those African intellectuals who find themselves dislocated by a series of complicated historical circumstances. To evade the larger world, Anberber, the principal character of Teza, retreats to the land of his childhood – even if that becomes the ultimate end of his existence. But immediately he is faced with all the socio-economic ills of his birthplace,lacking a place to hide. Like Prometheus, he went to bring the fire of modernization from Europe … however the fire he has acquired can’t help him cure the ills of his village, a village so inundated with countless needs. Consequently, as I did in real life, he mentally escapes to his childhood memory, when things appeared fantastic and yet prosperous, mentally it becomes his last refuge from everything that is real.

Even though he wants to be inactive in the daily dramatic reality of his village … the reality of his village, at least morally, still has the capacity to incriminate him. Moreover, his past isn’t something he can easily forget either. It belongs to a memory that is collective of his generation.

Every immigrant, when getting older, hears the soundtracks of childhood. Now, like in Teza, when I go to Ethiopia, the present Ethiopia is a nightmare for me, I create a psychological refuge and hide in my past when it was still fantastic. When trees had fruits, when we were kids. It’s not only your parents that feed you. The land fed me. Wild fruits, raspberrys, blueberrys, everything you can think of. When I went to shootTeza in 2004, I couldn’t find the trees where I used to eat those wild fruits. It’s part of the desertification, the global ecological change has even destroyed the memory of taste.

I come from a family where my father was a storyteller, a playwright. My grandmother is a very good storyteller as well. I was born in a house where electricity only came much later. So I was around the fire with my grandmother most of my adolescence years, before I am exposed to the cinema, listening to her stories. And there are these aesthetics that are passed down to me from my grandmother and my father as well as my stories. When my father did plays I went with him to various provinces. He was a nationalistic writer and he himself fought during the Italian occupation. Logically most of his plays were about Ethiopian patriots, who fought invaders including the Turkish Empire as well as during the Italian attempt of colonize Ethiopia. I grew around stories and songs and narrative drama that come out of my particular cultural aesthetics.

The idea of identity and liberation is perhaps the defining goal for me and my vision for an independent cinema. To tell one’s story is to place one’s name on the map of history and to do so while honoring the struggle of ancestors is essential to ensure that future generations have the documentation to create their own blueprint of survival. The history, culture and socio-economic well-being of all peoples of African descent is my primary concern, but above all the preservation of their humanity is the greatest motivation for me as a filmmaker.

best wishes
Araba Evelyn Johnston-Arthur

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