Talking About Film in Ethiopia

 

By Richard Peña, Professor of Film Studies at Columbia University

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Workshop with journalists on Basics of Film Critics

I was especially delighted to have received an invitation to come to Ethiopia to offer some programs about films. Over the past years, I have lectured for a good number of US posts—Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Mexico, Iceland, Norway, Portugal, China, India—but I daresay there was nowhere that excited me more than Ethiopia. For many of the nations listed above I already had friends, contacts and in some cases knowledge of their cinemas. But I knew very little of filmmaking in Ethiopia, even though I know that there was an incipient film movement whose impact was already being felt internationally.

My program, which changed quite a bit even during my stay, consisted of a combination of what I would term primarily lectures and primarily workshops. The “lecture” sessions were focused mainly on my presenting material, ranging from “Basics of Film Criticism” to Basics of Documentary Film” to “Re-defining Cinema: The American Avant-Garde.” My talks were of course illustrated by the screening of clips or short films. The other part of my offerings were what I think we could call “workshops,” although the term is a bit of a stretch. I usually think of workshops as offering some kind of practical information, in this case on the production of short films. But my workshops were basically attempts to offer a few ideas as to what I—not a filmmaker, but a film historian and curator—thought went into the creation of successful short works. Using largely examples from my Columbia University students, I would screen a short work and then try to analyze it according to the decisions that the students had made, regarding everything from use of music to placement of camera to what shots should begin or end a film.

The workshops counted heavily on the participation of those in attendance: I would say that especially the first time I offered the short film workshop, at the American Center, there was some really rich dialogue among all those present.

The lecture programs I feel also went well: my sense was that there is a real hunger among Ethiopian students of film for real knowledge about both classic and contemporary cinema, and they seemed pleased to learn many facts and details about the films. To the best of my knowledge, there is no functioning cinémathèque Addis nor anywhere else, and the vast majority of audience members with whom I spoke seemed at best self-educated in film.

One film that seemed to be especially well-received was BOROM SARET, the first film made by the great Senegalese filmmaker Ousmane Sembene, and a film that is often called the beginning of sub-Saharan African cinema. I was somewhat amazed that no one in the audiences to whom I showed the film had seen it before, but all the discussions around the film were lively and insightful. Although US posts clearly have the function of disseminating/promoting/explaining US culture, I believe the posts can also serve as an important bridge between places such as Ethiopia and the wide swath of world cinema to which we Americans have much more ready access.

I had an extraordinary time, met some wonderful people, and truly do look forward to returning soon.

 

የፊልም ውይይት በኢትዮጵያ

በሪቻርድ ፔና፤ በኮሎምቢያ ዩኒቨርሲቲ የፊልም ጥናቶች መምህር

film-blog

Workshop with film professionals

በፊልም ዙሪያ የተለያዩ መርሀ ግብሮች ላይ እንድሳተፍ ከኢትዮጵያ ግብዣ ሲደርሰኝ እጅግ ነበር የተደሰትኩት፡፡ ባለፉት ዓመታት በብራዚል፣ አርጀንቲና፣ ዑራጓይ፣ ሜክሲኮ፣ አይስላንድ፣ ኖርዌይ፣ ፖርቱጋል፣ ቻይናና ህንድን ጨምሮ በበርካታ አገራት በሚገኙ የአሜሪካ ኤምባሲዎች ተዘዋውሬ በፊልም ዙሪያ ስልጠናዎችን ሰጥቻለሁ፡፡ ነገር ግን እንደኢትዮጵያ የተደሰትኩበት አገር የለም ስል በልበሙሉነት ነው፡፡ ከላይ ስማቸውን የጠቀስኳቸው አገራት ስጓዝ ወዳጆች፣ የማውቃቸው ሰዎች አሊያም ስለሲኒማዎቻቸው እውቀት ነበረኝ፡፡ ምንም እንኳን በኢትዮጵያ የፊልም እንቅስቃሴው ጅማሮ ላይ ያለ ቢሆንም ተፅዕኖው በአለም አቀፍ ደረጃ የተሰማ ስለመሆኑ ብገነዘብም በኢትዮጵያ ስላለው የፊልም ሥራ የነበረኝ እውቀት ግን በጣም ውሱን ነበር፡፡

በኢትዮጵያ ቆይታዬ ፕሮግራሜ በተወሰነ መልኩ ቢቀየርም በዋናነት በፊልም ዙሪያ ሌክቸርና ወርክሾፕ አካሂጃለሁ፡፡ በሌክቸር ክፍለ ጊዜ ‹Basics of Film Criticism›፣‹Basics of Documentary Film› እና ‹Re-defining Cinema: The American Avant-Garde› የሚሉ ርዕሰ ጉዳዮችን አንስቼያለሁ፡፡ ንግግሮቼ በአብዛኛው በአጫጭር ፊልሞችና ክሊፖች ታጅበው የቀረቡ ነበሩ፡፡ ቃሉ ትንሽ የተለጠጠ ቢመስል ሌላው በቆይታዬ ያካሄድኩት ወርክሾፕ ነበር፡፡ ሁል ጊዜ ወርክሾፕ ሲባል በአእምሮዬ የሚመጣው ተግባራዊ ሙከራዎች የታከሉበት ሲሆን ይህ ማለትም አጫጭር ፊልሞችን መስራት ማለት ነው፡፡ ምንም እንኳን የፊልም ሰሪ ባልሆንም እንደ ፊልም አጥኚና አዘጋጅ በቆይታዬ ያካሄድኳቸው ወርክሾፖች ስኬታማ የሆኑ አጫጭር ፊልሞችን እንዴት መስራት እንደሚቻል ተጨማሪ ሀሳቦችን ይሰጣሉ ብዬ አምናለሁ፡፡ በኮሎምቢያ የማስተምራቸው ተማሪዎችን አጫጭር የፊልም ሥራዎች በአብዛኛው በምሳሌነት በማቅረብ ተማሪዎቹ ከሙዚቃና ከካሜራ አጠቃቀም ጀምሮ ያደረጉት ምርጫ ላይ ተንተርሼ ፊልሞቹ ላይ ትንታኔ ለማድረግ ሞክሬያለሁ፡፡ ወርክሾፑ በዋናነት በውይይቱ ተሳታፊዎች ተሳትፎ ላይ መሰረት ያደረገ ነበር፡፡ በተለይ የመጀመሪያ ቀን በአጭር ፊልም ዙሪያ በአሜሪካን ማዕከል በተካሄደው ወርክሾፕ ላይ የነበረው ውይይት እጅግ ጥሩ ሀሳቦች የተንሸራሸሩበት ነበር፡፡

የሌክቸሩ መርሀግብርም በጥሩ ሁኔታ እንደተካሄደ ነው የሚሰማኝ፡፡ ከውይይቱ እንደተረዳሁት የኢትዮጵያ የፊልም ተማሪዎች ስለቀድሞና ስለአሁን ፊልሞች የማወቅና ስለፊልም ሥራ የመማር ጉጉት እንዳላቸው ነው፡፡ በቆይታዬ ያነጋገርኳቸው የውይይቱ ተሳታፊዎች በሙሉ እንደገለፁልኝ በአዲስ አበባም ሆነ በሌሎች ቦታዎች የሲኒማ ላይብረሪ እንደሌለና ስለፊልም ሥራ ራሳቸውን በራሳቸው እንዳስተማሩ ነው፡፡

በታዋቂው ሴኔጋላዊ ፊልም ሰሪ ዑስማን ሴምቤኔ የተሰራው ‹BOROM SARET› እና ከሰሀራ በታች ባሉ አገራት የፊልም ፈር ቀዳጅ እንደሆነ የሚነገርለት ፊልም በውይይቱ ተሳታፊዎች ጥሩ ተቀባይነትን አግኝቷል፡፡ በፊልሙ ላይ የተደረገው ውይይት የሞቀ ቢሆንም ከታሳታፊዎች መካከል አንድም ሰው ከዚያን ቀን በፊት ፊልሙን እንዳልተመለከተው ስሰማ በጣም ነበር የተገረምኩት፡፡ ምንም እንኳን የአሜሪካ ኤምሳቢዎች የአሜሪካን ባህል የማስተዋወቅ ኃላፊነት ቢኖርባቸውም እንደኢትዮጵያ ባሉ ቦታዎችና እንደእኛ አሜሪካውያን ከፍተኛ የሲኒማ አቅርቦት ያላቸውን አገራት በማቀራረብ እንደድልድይ ያገለግላሉ የሚል እምነት አለኝ፡፡