Films & Schedules

  • Teza

  • Haile Gerima

Amharic, English, German
140 minutes

Production Company:
Pandora Film Produktion/Negod-gwad Production/Unlimited/Westdeutscher Rundfunk
Haile Gerima, Karl Baumgartner
Haile Gerima
Production Designer:
Patrick Dechesne, Alain-Pascal Housiaux, Seyum Ayana
Mario Masini
Haile Gerima, Loren Hankin
Martin Langenbach
Vijay Iyer, Jorga Mesfin
Principal Cast: Aaron Arefe, Abeye Tedla, Takelech Beyene

International Sales Agent:
The Match Factory

Monday September 0805:45PM SCOTIABANK THEATRE 2 Best Bet Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist
Wednesday September 1005:30PM AMC 5 Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist
Saturday September 1303:00PM SCOTIABANK THEATRE 1 Best Bet Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist

In the mid-nineties, Haile Gerima's Sankofa became a phenomenon among moviegoers of the African diaspora. Wherever it screened, audiences embraced the film with sometimes startling emotional force. Gerima's story of enslaved Africans fighting against oppression struck a deep chord; it was as if he had found the voice to tell a story that millions needed to hear.

After a long hiatus, during which he returned to his professorship at Howard University in Washington, D.C., Gerima is back. As with Sankofa, Teza locates a pivotal moment in the history of African peoples, but this time the subject is both more recent and more personal.

Gerima is a native of Ethiopia, and it is in that ancient and storied nation that Teza takes place. Anberber (Aaron Arefe) returns to his village after years spent studying medicine in Germany. Like many such returnees, he plans to use his new knowledge to uplift his people. But faced with a long-running war that continues to produce an abundance of pressing crises, he is unable to act. This is a time in Ethiopian history when the military junta of Haile Mariam Mengistu was hunting down all eligible men for the war effort; in Anberber's village, young men take to hiding in the hills.

Anberber finds his own escape in memory, flashing back to a childhood before the current war had ravaged his village's sense of cohesion. Drawing both on ancient oral storytelling and on the dream-narrative style he used in Sankofa, Gerima builds a portrait of Anberber through both his present struggles and interior reminiscences. These recollections are not simply personal; they also encompass the collective memory of Ethiopia, which includes the legacy of Italy's imperial presence.

Gerima has said that African identity and liberation are the key themes of his films. With Teza, he has found one more sophisticated and potent way to explore them.

Cameron Bailey

Haile Gerima was born in Gondar, Ethiopia, and is a writer, editor, director and producer. He received his training from both the Goodman Theatre in Chicago and the theatre department at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he completed a master's degree in film. His films include Bush Mama (76), Harvest: 3,000 Years (76), Wilmington 10 – U.S.A. 10,000 (78), Ashes and Embers (82), Sankofa (93), Adwa (99) and Teza (08).

Cadillac People's Choice Award