||Born in Gonder, Ethiopia in 1946, Haile
Gerima is the fourth child of ten children. His father
was a writer and his mother a teacher. As a youth Gerima
performed in his father's theater troupe, which presented
original and often historical drama, always submersed
in the genuine culture of Ethiopia.
Gerima came to the U.S. in 1967 to study at the Goodman
School of Drama. He slowly realized that "with cinema
I could control many more things than the theatre."
Gerima went on to receive his MFA from UCLA in 1976 and
to produce several films. Hour Glass, and
Child of Resistance were his first films, Bushmama
and Harvest 3,000 Years followed, all produced
during his years at UCLA.
In an attempt to address the imbalanced system of distribution
in this country Gerima founded Mypheduh Films (MFI)
distribution company in 1982. MFI distributes Gerima's films
and films by other filmmakers of African descent from around
the world. Self production and self distribution are what
make Gerima an "independent filmmaker." By approaching
filmmaking this way Gerima believes that he can maintain
the content of his films, without having to follow the "formula"
dictated by "Hollywood films." So far the audience
response to his work affirms the necessity for films that
freely express our own stories that have been "economically
censored" from the screen. After completing Harvest,
Gerima produced Wilmington 10 - USA 10,000*,
Ashes and Embers, After Winter:
Sterling Brown*, SANKOFA, Through
the Door of No Return (Co-producer and editor),
Imperfect Journey**, and Adwa -
An African Victory*.
He is currently working on 1) Adwa Part II - The
Children of Adwa. This film will look at the return
of Italy to Ethiopia during WWII and the gallant determination
of Ethiopians to remain free; 2) The Maroons Film
Project - this film will investigate the existence
of free territories during slavery, run and controlled by
people who had escaped slavery. Sankofa Video and
Bookstore was opened in 1996 in order to combat
the refusal of chain video stores to carry the work of Gerima
and other black filmmakers. The store attempts to make such
films available to a broader public while at the same time
demonstrating that movies can and should be held to the
same high standards as good literature. Gerima teaches film
and Howard University and is a father of six.
*Not yet on video
**Commissioned by BBC, not yet available in this country
regarding arranging speaking engagements for Haile Gerima
For ordering information on the SANKOFA
video cassette, SANKOFA merchandise, and other titles by
Haile Gerima visit the Sankofa Store.