Fiche Personne
Cinéma/TV Photo

Daniel Debebe Negatu (Dhaniel)

Réalisateur/trice, Monteur/se
Canada, Éthiopie




My first introduction to film came when a photographer friend of mine asked me to help him make a film. I grew up watching a lot of films but had never thought of film making as career choice. I had no training in film or anything remotely similar but for the first time since I was happily playing football back in high school, I experienced the feeling of getting lost in what I was doing. I was starting to fall in love with cinema. This was back in 2006.

It has now been around 10 ten years since I quit my engineering job, handed over my degree to my parents and started pursuing filmmaking. Thankfully, I have not looked back or had any regrets. All of the knowledge and experience I managed to garner in filmmaking was self-acquired. I taught myself Final Cut and Premiere Pro, how to shoot and write scripts and I simply started making films. One of my first films, Fighting with Father, was a participatory video project with an artistic collective of HIV/AIDS orphans in Addis Ababa. It dealt with the autobiographical reworking of painful life experiences of having to cope after losing a parent due to HIV/AIDS. This film opened a lot of doors for me to build on my skills as a film maker. It was screened at many international film festivals in Europe and Africa and earned me invitations to present my work at Harvard University, Duke University – Center for Documentary Studies, NYU-Tisch and other esteemed educational institutes in North America.

Another prominent milestone in my filmmaking journey was an opportunity to study at the renowned Imagine film school in Burkina Faso under the auspices of Gaston Kabore who is one of the fathers of Pan-African cinema. This intensive two- month program really opened my eyes to the possibilities of using film as a cultural tool. My stay in Burkina Faso also helped me further hone my technical skills and develop an appreciation of cinema outside of mainstream Hollywood, introducing me to the works of Haile Gerima, Ousmane Sembene , Theo Angelopoulos and many more.

In 2009, I was working as a creative director at one of the top production offices in Ethiopia and producing content for many international clients like UNICEF, MTV- Staying Alive and the Nike Foundation. I also wrote, directed and edited my first narrative short film called I-Witness and won the Jury’s Prize at the Images that Matter short film festival.

More recently, I started collaborating with an American photographer called Eric Gottesman on using the work of an Ethiopian author (Bealu Girma), who disappeared shortly after publishing a book on the communist Ethiopian government’s “Red Star” campaign to defeat Eritrean opposition, as a vehicle to engage in local discussions about the central conflict between creative expression and authority, I recently edited a multi-channel video installation as part of a bigger exhibition of photographs and descriptions of Girma’s work. I am also finalzing a short film called Silence.

Since 2011 I had started my own production company in Addis Ababa and continued producing content for local and international clients. I was also selected to attend the Cannes film festival as an emerging film talent in 2014. I am now based between Canada and Ethiopia and producing work in Africa and North America.

It has almost been a decade since I embarked on this beautiful journey of making films and I still feel as passionately about filmmaking as I did when I first quit my job to pursue it. I am now doing an MFA in film at York University.

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