Photo Credit: Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Haile Gerima On the Need For African Filmmakers to Reflect on a Continent That 'Lost Its Mind'

We speak to the legendary director about the re-release of Sankofa and the trials of producing African cinema.

When Haile Gerima's seminal work, Sankofa, first came out in 1993, it spoke to themes of forgotten history and displacement. Now, through a 4K restoration by ARRAY Releasing, the filmmaker's urgent, uncompromising perspective is being shared once again — this time, with a different kind of resonance, underscored by the current situation in Gerima's home country, Ethiopia.

For Sankofa's original release, Gerima had to self-distribute and self-promote it with his co-producer and wife, Shirikiana Aina. Now, thanks to ARRAY, the company founded by Ava DuVernay, the film will be made more accessible to a broader audience, notably by being accessible on Netflix in various countries around the world complete with an accompanying learning companion guide. It's a far cry from the grassroots approach Gerima and Aina had to take back in the early-90s when Sankofa struggled to find distribution and they had to, as Gerima says, "foot-walk the film across 30/40 states for weeks."

"It's a very powerful way of bringing the film to people that are still searching, still trying to find it. Because we don't even have a DVD of it," the LA-based filmmaker tells OkayAfrica. "So for me, it's something that me and my co-producer, my wife, have never been able to do. Ava just took the responsibility, a very enormous, humongous responsibility, to get this film out like this."

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Cinema Africa: Ethiopian Legend Haile Gerima On His Civil Rights Masterpiece, 'Ashes And Embers'

Legendary Ethiopian filmmaker Haile Gerima sits down with Okayafrica to talk the re-release of his 1982 film 'Ashes and Embers.'

In the fifth installment of Okayafrica’s Cinema Africa series, legendary Ethiopian filmmaker Haile Gerima discusses the re-release of his 1982 film, Ashes and Embers. 

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