Ethiopian Films News

The dawn of a brilliant 2D animation

By Tibebeselassie Tigabu

Ethiopian films have been waddling for a couple of decades now in the face of constant challenges. As most films are made with the traditional video cameras, not much creativity has been observed. Yet once in a blue moon, filmmakers are coming up with a new style of presentation. The newly released 2d animation clip ‘Yawiwe’ is such an example.

‘Yawiwe’  (let’s give him) is a Guraghigna music that is sung by the renowned dancer and choreographer  Mewded Kibru. What makes this music quite interesting is its brilliant music clip that has animation work done by Temam Reja.

Fusing hip-hop dance with Guraghigna, the clip depicts the contemporary contrast of Ethiopia dwelling between the modern and the traditional world.

For many ‘Yawiwe’ can be considered as a ground-breaking work in Ethiopian animation. And the feedback the animator is getting after its release on You-tube, Dire-tube and Lucy has lifted his spirits. Yawiwe is currently on the top-50 list at the mentioned sights.

“It has been only two months since its release and on Dire-tube we were able to get more than 40,000 viewers. Some of the comments did actually took me by surprise,”  says Temam. “One of the comments which made me feel overwhelmed reads, ‘you brought a revolution on animation of Ethiopia’ and that comment was too good-to-be-true,” smiles Temam.

Yawiwe’s 5-minute-and-57-second-long clip tells the story of a young boy who is deeply in love with a girl. Mesmerized by her movements the boy gets a kick in the head when he listens to the exciting sounds created from her typical Guraghe bracelet, kembua kertchia.

As the young boy is moved by the one he loves, the girl’s parents understand his feelings and decide to let him have her, and they respond saying, ‘Yawiwe’ (let’s give him).

Through the movement and the dances Mewded tells how the young Gurage girl’s distinctive feature caught his heart.

Rarely people find their true calling at early age and act on and often are seen wasting their talent.

Temam, a 35-year-old businessman, is one of those rare individuals who decided to make his long-lived dream a reality.

Temam loves drawing humorous sketches and started painting at a young age. A skinny young boy at school, the animator used to sketch his teachers on black boards using chalks. He also loved drawing cartoon characters like Mickey Mouse on his uniforms.

The sketches he used to do made him popular among his colleagues. His creative expressions landed him in trouble, but he did not shy away from expressing his talent.

Though the sketching continued in high school, Temam joined the family business afterwards.

Engaged in the family’s cosmetics business, his passion grew with in him and was manifested on sketches whenever he had a free time or edited the family photo and added after-effects. But the daily routines did not let him share his creativity with the world.

“I always felt like there was something in me I have to share because I love paintings, but there was an opening in the family business so I joined business,” says Temam.

According to Temam, he did not have time for fun.  The only fun time had was when he sketched after work and it gave him a meaning to his life and deep down he knew it was his answer to his inner calling.

Even if he loved sketching, there were also times when he lost a meaning for his sketches; he was frustrated by the emptiness of the paintings. Not being able to share his work with others made Temam frustrated. One time he even burned all the paintings he collected over the years.

“You know there are times where you feel the paintings are doing nothing and I felt that the paintings are not doing anything in my life. So I decided to quit,” recalls Temam.

Despite the hiccups, quitting was not an option for him. He has struggled not to sketch but could not resist the urge to sketch again.

Temam has always tried to look at things differently and even in difficult situations he always finds the humor in people. Some of the animator’s characters include a bold man (Melataw), rappers, baletirunbaw (the man with the horn), shimaglew  (the old man), and fitlefit (face-to-face).

Music is also an important part of his life and in the past years he has composed around 30 songs.

The inspiration for animation came around two years back when a screening of ‘Washaw’, a fully Ethiopian animation film, gave him an idea on how to shift his sketches into animation. His talks with the film maker of Washaw drove him to do something about his own sketches.

When Temam finally got into animation he started by depicting the culture knew more, Guraghigna dance. Fitting the dance steps of Guraghigna into the animation Temam put his dance movements on  clips for mobile phones.

As he remembers his first animation was difficult. It took him a couple of months to do just a one-minute film. Through practice, however, he started shortening his delivey time.

Soon enough, Temam’s Guraghigna dances became popular and people were sharing the mobile phones clips. It was a matter of time before Temam’s talent was recognized and a friend, Ermias Ejigu, told Mewded Kibru, who was interested in animation, about his work.

As Temam explains, Mewded contributed a lot to this piece. “He was in every step of the way and use used more than 900 sketches. This resulted in the beautiful animation,” he adds.

“Mewded is a very determined person. He really wanted this work to be good and we did it,” Temam says. 

Given the success of his first work, Temam is now thinking of making a shift in his career. He has many animation works lined up for him including a full-length animation film and educational materials for children.

Currently the animator is doing the popular children plays ‘Etemete’ and also the Ge’ez (Amharic) and English alphabets.

He strongly believes the animation revolution which is being witnessed in Addis is very promising despite the lack of technical expertise.

“It’s been two or three years since it was started and we shouldn’t compare it with films like Shrek or Madagascar. We should know we are at a very early,” says Temam.

As a self-learned filmmaker the animator learned the techniques of 2d animation and his next plan is to do a 3d animation. Temam has already started studying the CD tutorial for his next venture.

“We should give chances to people. I am sure there are hidden talents and animation is a simple way to tell your story. As you know it needs many people to cooperate, so we should lend a hand to each other,” concludes Temam.

Source: The Reporter