Press Release


Award-winning independent filmmaker behind TEZA, SANKOFA, & BUSH MAMA brings grassroots energy to new Indiegogo campaign

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- MONDAY, JUNE 1st, 2015, Haile Gerima, the independent Ethiopian filmmaker behind the critically-acclaimed and international award-winning films TEZA, SANKOFA, BUSH MAMA and the Cannes Classic HARVEST 3,000 YEARS, is officially launching the Indiegogo campaign for his new film, YETUT LIJ (“Child of the Breast”).

During the month-long campaign, Gerima aims to raise $500,000 in matching production funds, the minimum needed to match existing co-production funds and film on-location in Ethiopia.

Gerima’s prospective feature will be his 12th film and 8th dramatic narrative. Like his past films, YETUT LIJ implicates the struggle of marginalized and oppressed people of color, in this case, women and girls, who are trafficked, exploited and enslaved all over the world.

The film’s title is an Amharic term that usually refers to any child taken in and raised by someone, other than their biological parent. Set primarily in Gerima’s childhood town of Gondar, the story takes place in the 1960’s, some 20 years after the Italo-Ethiopian War. Aynalem, a 13-year-old peasant girl, is adopted by a wealthy judge's family and taken away from her own. Promised an educated upbringing and a better life, she is instead, brutalized and forced to work as a domestic servant.

A graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles, Gerima has spent over 40 years making independent films of “ substance and bold expression” (THE WASHINGTON POST). Having worked alongside other independent filmmakers, like Charles Burnett, Billy Woodberry and Larry Clark, Gerima has mastered the production of high-value, low-budget films, outside of commercial and mainstream institutions.

Although this is Gerima’s first campaign on crowdfunding platforms, the writer, director and producer insists that “Crowd-funding is not new to me.” Crediting the grassroots efforts that made BUSH MAMA (1979) and SANKOFA (1993) possible, Gerima emphasizes that “None of my past films would have been possible without the community who said, ‘I want to see this film happen.’” With this June’s campaign on Indiegogo, Gerima expects to reach a new, and younger audience hungry for films like his, while activating the loyal base of supporters that made his previous works possible.

Gerima has been a distinguished professor of film at Howard University, since 1975. He and his wife, filmmaker Shirikiana Aina, own a video bookstore, across from the main campus, which serves as a cultural space for other local artists, as well as a base of operations for their production and distribution companies.

Sankofa Video, Books and Café is located at 2714 Georgia Avenue NW, Washington, D.C. 20001

For interview requests and other inquiries contact: Saaret Yoseph at: [m] (202) 735-1188, [o] (202) 234-4755, or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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