Ethiopia's Women Filmmakers

The 2014 International Cannes Film Festival has once again ended with an underlining issue- gender balance in the film industry. Though it is overwhelming- the subject is yet unresolved among those who have taken the film industry to next level. As it is worldwide, gender balance in Ethiopia's film making is still waiting for intervention. However it is without a doubt that women like Selam Mekuria are among those who have pioneered the Ethiopian film industry. Born in 1947, Selam is an independent Filmmaker and a Professor at Wellesley College, USA. She has received number of awards and has movies shown worldwide with the well know movie Deluge or 'Yewonz Maebel' to her name.

Following her lead others who have joined the industry are; Lucy Gebre-Gziabher, born in 1961, a teacher and filmmaker, has made an award-winning short film-At the Second Traffic Light, Maji-Da Abdi, born in  1970, wrote, produced and directed award winning documentary film, The River that Divides, Aida Ashenafi who was born in 1971- a well known director with more than 15 years of experience, has a documentary movie 'Guzo' (Amharic for Journey), which won first place at the 3rd Annual Addis International Film Festival and Nnegest Likke, born in 1970, has directed a movie that hit the box office- 'The Phat Girlz'.

Though many of the well known female filmmakers are mainly diasporas, recently some who are residing in Ethiopia are outshining in the film industry. Among these female filmmakers; Alemtsehaye Bekele - an actor and director of different movies, Tv dramas, and theaters - has directed the well known movie 'Baletaxiwe, Roman Befekadu- director of the movie City Boys and producer of 'Baletaxiw'; Mekedese Befekadu- who has produced and directed 'Yeadam Gemena'; Kedest Bayelegn who has directed Across the Atlantic in 2012 and Yetnayet Bahru a young Ethiopian film maker who has made the Feature film Aledewelem (He Didn'€™t Call); are worth mentioning.

Since 2003 up to 2010 about 273 movies were made. In these number of movies made, an estimation of only less than ten female filmmakers were involved. However against all odds, the recent 2014's 'from Addis to Cannes' selection has proved to have comprised of four female film makers among five selectees. Adanch Admassu being the most experienced from the group- Hiwot Admasu, Hermon Hailay and Yamrot Nigussie have traveled to and participated in the Cannes Film Festival. Medias from all over the world such as, TV 5, Daily Screen, BBC, African Women in Cinema Blog and others have reported their presentence on the Festival- highlighting the fact that though Ethiopia's film industry is still striving to grow- Ethiopian women are rapidly increasing their participation in the filmmaking industry of the country.

By: Saba Seifu Lemma

June 2014