Award winning writer, producer and director.
Critically acclaimed filmmaker of SANKOFA, TEZA, and ADWA.
Born in Gondar, Ethiopia, Gerima is a writer, producer and director, perhaps best known for his acclaimed film SANKOFA (1993). The dramatic tale of African resistance to slavery won international acclaim, awarded first prize at the African Film Festival in Milan, Italy, as well as Best Cinematography at Africa’s premier Festival of Pan African Countries.
His most recent film, TEZA, was another personal drama, set in Ethiopia and Germany. The film chronicled the return of an African intellectual to his country of birth, during the repressive Marxist regime of Haile Mariam Mengistu.
TEZA was awarded Best Screenplay and the Grand Jury Prize at the Venice Film Festival in 2008, and also received the Grand Prize at the Ouagadougou Panafrican Film and Television Festival in 2009, among other international commendations.
Throughout his career, Haile Gerima has used his work as a critical lens for personal growth and creative development. His concern for people of African descent is evident, especially, where the representation of their image is concerned. His belief is that independent cinematic expression should counter the superficial and stereotype-laden films of Hollywood and, instead, engage socially relevant issues. Toward this end, many of Gerima’s films have been produced with grassroots, community support and/or financing from arts institutions, outside of the United States.
The concepts of identity and independence are, perhaps, the most pervasive in all of Gerima’s films. He sees filmmaking as a conduit for telling his personal stories, a means to honor the struggles of his ancestors and add their names to the map of history, and for future generations to have a blueprint for their own survival.
An alumnus of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Film and Television, Gerima has spent over 40 year making high value, low budget films outside of commercial institutions. Gerima has been a distinguished professor of film at Howard University since 1975.