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Haile Gerima on the Need for African Filmmakers to Reflect on a Continent That ‘Lost Its Mind’

When his film ‘Sankofa’ was originally released in 1993, it was an arduous, hands-on affair for Ethiopian filmmaker, Haile Gerima, to get it seen, but times have changed. Thanks to ARRAY, the production company founded by Hollywood mogul Ava Duvernay, his important film is set for re-release to a much broader audience through Netflix. He sees it as the best thing that could have happened for the film, which DuVernay calls “boundary-pushing and transformative,” and tells the story of a Black American model who goes back in time and experiences slavery on a plantation. A pivotal figure in the LA Rebellion movement — alongside the likes of Julie Dash and Charles Burnett — Gerima pioneered a form of African cinema that acknowledged the untold roots of Black resistance.