The frustrated ideals of a young scientist in Ethiopian film

January 2009 -

Films with Africa as subject are still relatively scarce at the International Film Festival Rotterdam. A film by Haile Gerima will be shown at the next edition of this festival. This is an Ethiopian film maker who has already made seven full-length features.


Image from Teza

Teza tells the story of a student, Anberber, who studied medicine in Germany in the 1970s. After his studies he returns to Ethiopia because he hopes to apply his skills to the benefit of the inhabitants of his country. That proves to be virtually impossible. In the 1970s, Mengistu Haile Marjam's Marxist junta ruled with an iron fist. Anberber's dream is thwarted by a regime that primarily utilises scientists for political purpose.

Teza is a deeply-moving film with a high documentary content about a beautiful country that shivers with fear under a reign of violence. Despite a rather moralistic undertone, the film is striking because of its wonderful imagery, the excellent acting and its story about interior twists known by few.

The Hubert Bals Fund financially supported this film. Gerima, however, is not a film maker in Africa; he has been living in the United States for 25 years, where he teaches at a variety of universities. Bianca Taal of the Hubert Bals Fund: "It took Gerima fourteen years to get the financing for Teza together. There are not many films about Ethiopia, and because we think this story should be told, we supported the film."

Gerima is a respected film maker who always films from the perspective of his land of birth. Teza won the Special Jury Prize at the 65th film festival of Venice and was applauded by international critics. Taal: "The film is successful at festivals and has already been purchased by distributors in Germany and France. Whether there is an interested distributor in the Netherlands remains to be seen."

The Hubert Bals Fund is supported by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Hivos-NCDO Culture fund, NPS, Dioraphte Foundation and DOEN Foundation.