Gerima was born and raised in Gondar, Ethiopia, where he sat around the fire engrossed in the tales told by parents and grandparents. His father, a dramatist and playwright who traveled across the Ethiopian countryside staging local plays, was perhaps his greatest influence, nurturing a love of the art.
He immigrated to the United States in 1968, at the age of twenty-one, with an interest in theatre. In Chicago, he enrolled in acting classes at the Goodman School of Drama in Chicago. “When I was growing up,” he reveals in the Los Angeles Times, “I wanted to work in theatre—it never occurred to me I could be a filmmaker because I was raised on Hollywood movies that pacified me to be subservient. Film making isn’t encouraged or supported by the Ethiopian government.” He felt limited by theatre and was resigned, notes Francoise Pfaff, to “subservient roles in Western plays.” By 1970 he had discovered “the power of cinema.”
He migrated to California to attend the University… read more