There are filmmakers all around us. But how many have the desire and passion to tell the stories of the African diaspora? Haile Gerima does.
I personally have always found pride in stories that tell the history of people of color, especially those that tell stories of African and African American history. This is how I discovered Haile’s work. I was in my second semester of my Senior year of college (Spring 2010 at Howard University) in an “Intro to African Art History” class. It was in this class that I was introduced to the film, SANKOFA. It is a story in which its main character is transported from being a model, on a photo shot in modern day Ghana, to waking up, an American slave. The film had me on the edge of my seat and I couldn’t wait to re-watch it!
I mention that to share with you a small bit of the depth of Gerima’s films! As an independent filmmaker, Gerima’s past films include TEZA, ADWA, and BUSH MAMA, and HARVEST 3,000 YEARS among others. He has received awards and critical acclaim for these and he has also received praise from filmmakers, like Martin Scorsese and SELMA director, Ava Duvernay, who admires his critical eye and unrelenting spirit.
Gerima recently joined forces with Ava DuVernay (Selma) & her organization, AFFRM during a 12 hour long Twitter Q&A (read recap HERE on storify).
This is why when I discovered that he was working on another film, I knew I had to spread the word. Gerima is raising production funds for a new dramatic film called, YETUT LIJ (“Child of the Breast”) and it will be his 12th film and 8th dramatic feature to date. To promote and raise funds for the film, Gerima has launched a crowd-sourced fundraising campaign online using Indiegogo. Gerima aims to raise $500,000 in matching funds, in order to finance a million dollar production and they are reaching the last stretch of this campaign! GO HERE TO DONATE
If you don’t know Haile’s work, get familiar. The man has championed stories by and about people of color, for over 40 years. The story takes place primarily in Gerima’s childhood town of Gondar and is set during the 1960s, 20 years after the Italo Ethiopian War. Aynalem, a 13-year-old peasant girl, is adopted by a wealthy judge’s family and taken away from her own. Promised an education and a better life, she is instead brutalized and forced to work as a domestic servant.
With all of that said, all that I ask that you please lend him your support, during this crucial time! Again, they are reaching the last stretch of this campaign and I believe this is a story that deserves to be told! GO HERE TO DONATE
What else can I do to help?
- FOLLOW @YETUTLIJMOVIE: On Twitter and Instagram. Use the hashtag#Childof to show your support.
- SHARE THIS LINK: Use → http://igg.me/at/hailegerima ← to be sure that all your contacts, followers and friends know where to go to contribute.
- SPREAD THE WORD: GO Tell 10 friends NOW!
- VISIT SANKOFA: Go to one of their local campaign events or stop by Sankofa Video & Books Cafe in Washington, DC to see community arts and independent film in action.
A graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles, Haile Gerima has spent more than 40 years making independent films of “substance and bold expression.” (THE WASHINGTON POST).
He has mastered producing high value, low budget films outside of commercial and institutions, and has been a distinguished professor of film at Howard University since 1975. Gerima and his wife, filmmaker Shirikiana Aina, own Sankofa Video & Books Cafe, across from Howard University, which is a base of operations for their production and distribution companies, Negod Gwad Productions and Mypheduh Films, Inc.
“I make personal films,” says Gerima, “it just so happens that these personal films have also felt deeply personal to many others, as well. And that has been my pleasure as a filmmaker.”
Sankofa Video, Books & Café is located at 2714 Georgia Avenue NW, Wash, D.C. 20001
To help make Haile Gerima’s next film, you may also visit Sankofa or contribute online at yetutlij.com