Haile Gerima: Ashes and Embers (Asche und Glut)

Ashes and Embers, Haile Gerima, 129’, ZDF 11.8.1983, Original English version

Haile Gerima’s 1982 film about the Vietnam veteran Ned Charles’s return is a masterpiece of African-American cinema of its time. Trapped in nightmares of fighting for a nation that has little but racism to offer him, he perceives the once familiar world like a stranger: his wife, who has joined the civil rights movement, his son, for whom he died in the war, his grandmother, who has to sell her hard-fought-for piece of land to speculators. A radical, poetic work in which the trauma of the main character becomes palpable in all its complexity and nonlinearity. “I don’t just make films, but also want to test the structure of the film, its quality, its look. The most boring black film is one that is made like conventional films – imitative like a trained monkey. Jazz, the blues - where is that experience in the film?” Haile Gerima has created it.

Haile Gerima (*1946) is an US-based Ethiopian filmmaker and one of the most important filmmakers of the Los Angeles School of Black Filmmakers, also known as L.A. Rebellion. Das kleine Fernsehspiel broadcast his films Harvest 3000 Years (1978), for which he returned to Ethiopia, and Ashes and Embers (1983), which is set in the USA. Both films were shown in the Berlinale Forum.