Ref. :  000030984
Date :  2008-12-29
Language :  English
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Ethiopian filmmakers address the development challenge

Author :  UNESCO

Addis Ababa hosted the 3rd Ethiopian International Film Festival (3EIFF) from 24 to 30 November 2008 under the theme 'Value Each Other'. The event attracted widespread interest with over 20,000 visitors coming to see 50 films from 7 countries; 22 of these films were produced in Ethiopia.


UNESCO worked with Ato Yirgashewa Teshome, Director of 3EIFF and Linkage Media, to create a Development Day within the Film Festival aimed at showcasing the power of films as a platform for development communication. A half-day workshop organized by UNESCO and Linkage Media on Development Day brought together over 100 film-makers, media professionals and development workers to reflect on and identify strategies for promoting development issues and messages through popular films.

According to Ato Yirgashewa, “while documentary films have been successfully used to raise awareness, much more can be done if development messages are captured and presented in regular, entertainment-oriented feature films which have greater audience appeal.” “In Ethiopia we face many development challenges, and popular films can play an important role in alleviating them” he added, “film-makers and traditional development workers can achieve much through closer collaboration”.

The workshop provided opportunities to examine techniques and creative approaches to incorporating development themes in film. Samples of good practice were highlighted through film clips presented to the audience. Practical challenges being faced by the film industry in Ethiopia, such as limited access to training, the marketing of films locally and abroad as well as the need to create opportunities to work with foreign film makers through mentorship programmes, were highlighted.

Emerging from the workshop was a recognition and consensus that “film-makers are a dynamic and essential component of society with a shared responsibility for advocating development through film”, as Benyam Worku, film maker and Public Relation Manager from the Ethiopian Film Makers Association, pointed out.

UNESCO, through its Culture, and Communication and Information Sectors, is involved in a number of efforts aimed at building the capacity of Ethiopian film makers and supporting their growth both as a cultural industry and as a platform for addressing human development needs. In June 2008, UNESCO organized an exploratory forum to identify gaps and needs. This collaboration resulted in a decision by UNESCO to be involved in the recent Film Festival, to organize in 2009 short skill training workshops for film producers, and to make a research about the effective use of film for development communication. Exploratory discussions are also underway with the Addis Ababa University and other stakeholders on the possible establishment of a film school.


- Related themes/countries:
· Ethiopia
· Creative Content: Radio, TV, New Media
· Media Development


- Contact(s):
* Paul Hector, Bureau of UNESCO in Addis-Abeba: p.hector@unesco.org
* Hirut Girma, Bureau of UNESCO in Addis-Abeba: h.girma@unesco.org
* Yirgashewa Teshome, director of the festival and of Linkage Media: yirgity@yahoo.com


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