HOW TO MAKE SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE FILMS
ADDIS ABABA – 25 September 2009 - Filmmakers in Ethiopia have been encouraged to make a variety of socially responsible feature films and documentaries, in order to promote tolerance and mutual understanding. That was the theme of a four-day workshop in Addis Ababa organised by the Ethiopian Film Initiative (EFI) in partnership with Addis Ababa University and sponsored by UNESCO, which aims to develop the professional skills and standards of Ethiopian cinema.
Workshop participants discussed the importance of responsibly examining cultural, social and religious themes in their work. They also considered the power and popularity of the film medium and how that power can be used to have either a positive or negative impact in a society. The workshop emphasized the opportunities filmmakers can have to deepen an understanding of the complexity and richness of Ethiopia’s social fabric.
The workshop was opened on Tuesday 22 September by H.E. Ambassador Dirir Gheddi, Minister of Culture and Tourism. Around 40 people with a range of directing, producing, camera and editing skills as well as film-rating officers attended the workshop. Participants were drawn from Addis Ababa and different parts of Ethiopia. Both government and private media organisations were represented with ETV, SNNPR TV, Dire Dawa TV and Amhara TV as well as all the film associations, AA University, AA City Hall, Walta, GEM TV, private film schools, and independent filmmakers.
The workshop was addressed by a number of film professionals and experts in Addis Ababa, including chairman at AAU Theatre department Belayheh Abune, lecturer Nebiyou Baye, lecturer in film at AAU Dawit Lakew, Assistant Professor Berhanu Gebeyehu and Film Director Ermias Woldeamlak. There were also contributions by the EFI co-ordinator of Ragnhild Ek and by Keith Bowers, a former documentary commissioning editor at the BBC.
The workshop ended with a pitching exercise in which participants put forward ideas for socially responsible documentaries to a panel of experts including Kaylois Henry (ECA), Professor Abiyi Ford and Ragnhld Ek.
From September 28 a second intensive technical training workshop starts to promote the concept of socially responsible films. A smaller group of participants will produce four short documentaries with social themes. They will be guided by a team of camera and editing experts led by Pascal Schmitz from South Africa, and Ethiopia. It is envisaged that these documentaries will be shown to audiences in Ethiopia as well as abroad.
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