Friday, 2 July 2010


Despite its size, Ethiopia has never experienced a particular boom in filmmaking, with features only occasionally being released. Much of the Ethiopian film ‘industry’ has fallen on the shoulders of ex-pat Haile Gerima, perhaps best known in the West for his historical fantasy Sankofa. While studying at the UCLA, he produced four films, the last of which was a feature called Harvest: 3,000 Years. This film follows an impoverished family as they eke out a life working for a selfish landowner. Though most of the family endure his domineering ways, fully understanding that this may be the only employment that can keep them afloat, daughter Beletech is at odds with her situation, refusing to conform to the landowner’s expectations of her but never gaining fulfillment from doing so.

Harvest carries along at a slow pace, mirroring the endless labour carried out by the family. It is in this respect that the film loses some of its potential as, while the meditative style is beautiful and certainly appropriate, the unprofessional cast are unable to sustain the experience. Additionally, Gerima refined most of the film’s themes in Sankofa, adding a modern context to portray the idea that the suffering never ends. Nonetheless, this should all be forgiven, particularly as Gerima was still a student when the film was completed. The most significant aspect of Harvest is its provenance, having been completed just a year after the fall of Haile Selassie I, and those looking for an honest historical account will be satisfied.

No comments:

Post a Comment