A filmschool in Ethiopia

Interview with Abraham Haile Biru by Olivier Barlet

Director of photography and filmmaker, Abraham Haile Biru is since 2007 the head of the Blue Nile Academy, the only cinema school in East Africa.

Here we are at the 63rd Cannes Film Festival. It’s your second time in Cannes; what was the first occasion? The first occasion was as part of the crew of a film entitled Abouna directed by Mahmat-Saleh Haroun, screened at the Director’s Fortnight. I was invited by ARTE. How does it feel to be in Cannes, and what brought you here this year? It feels so wealthy. Everything is so nice, people are relaxed and the lighting is so good. In Ethiopia we have power cuts everyday, so when I see so many lights, I think, can’t we share the light? We don’t have enough power. It’s interesting to be here. I was invited by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs to talk about my school. It’s an opportunity to see if I can get backing from people here. Is it a good opportunity to make international contacts for the work you are doing in Ethiopia? Yes. It’s an opportunity to meet people you don’t normally run into. When I’m in Ethiopia, it’s very hard for me to contact them. It’s an opportunity to explain what we need, what we have. I attended a workshop on education. My main point is that rather than having two or three students coming here to France or to Europe, it’s better to send a trainer to Ethiopia. They agreed that it was a good point. They don’t know anything about East Africa, so it’s good that someone was here to explain the situation and to inform them. In addition to having set up this school, your main activity is that of cinematographer. What’s your experience of being a cinematographer in Africa? What difficulties do you face when shooting? What opportunities are the...

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