Teza (film)

Teza is a 2008 Ethiopian drama film about the Derg period in Ethiopia. Teza won the top award at the 2009 Panafrican Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou. The film was directed and written by Haile Gerima.[1]

Directed byHaile Gerima
Produced byPhilippe Avril
Karl Baumgartner
Marie-Michèlegravele Cattelain
Haile Gerima
Written byHaile Gerima
Music byVijay Iyer
Jorga Mesfin
CinematographyMario Masini
Edited byHaile Gerima
Loren Hankin
Distributed byMypheduh Films (US)
Running time
140 minutes
CountryEthiopia, Germany, France
LanguageAmharic, English, German


Set in 1970s Ethiopia, Teza (Morning Dew) tells the story of a young Ethiopian as he returns from West Germany a postgraduate. Anberber comes back to a country at the height of the Cold War and under the Marxist regime of Mengistu Haile Mariam. Working in a health institution he witnesses a brutal murder and finds himself at odds with the revolutionary party running the country. He is ordered by the regime to take up a post in East Germany and uses this opportunity to escape to the West until the Berlin Wall falls and Ethiopia's military regime is overthrown.

Now aged 60, Anberber finally returns to his home village. Although he finds comfort from his ageing mother he feels alienated from those around him by his absence from home for so long and is disillusioned and haunted by his past.[2]


According to the director, Haile Gerima, who is also the executive producer and writer, Teza took 14 years to make. The writing underwent changes during those years, maturing and blossoming in certain areas. Teza's scheduling, especially its Germany shoot had to undergo radical change due to funding issues which cut the scheduled 3 week shoot to 10 days. There was a 2-year gap between the wrap of shooting in Ethiopia in August 2004 and the beginning of the German shooting in November 2006.

Actor Aaron Arefe (Anberber) burst a blood vessel in his right eye during a particularly stressful scene. The director sent the actors home for rest, the next day Arefayne's eye was completely covered in a film of blood. The production schedule would not permit any more breaks and the director was obliged to continue shooting. There were other challenges, some epic, some humorous. All in all, the director, cast and crew seemed to be able to overcome the many challenges to deliver a film that delivers an important message that audiences from Italy, to Dubai responded to with enthusiasm.


Teza has been able to achieve an amazing cross over popularity, resulting in its being invited to screen at numerous film festivals. It first saw its popularity surge at the 65th International Venice Film Festival, where the press premiere was marred by problematic subtitles, but its public premiere attended by the producers, director and cast was met with 20 minutes of applause from a packed audience. It was the favored film for the highest award until it was upstaged by Darren Aronofsky's The Wrestler. Even so, Teza won the Special Jury and Best Screenplay awards. The film was next invited to Toronto, where it was also well received. It was entered in competition at the Carthage International Film Festival in Tunisia where it swept 5 categories, including Tanit D'Or for Best Film, Best Screenplay (Haile Gerima), Best Music (Vijay Ayer and Jorga Mesfin), Best Supporting Male Lead (Abeye Tedla) and Best Cinematography (Mario Masini). Thereafter its showing in the Dubai International Film Festival achieved best score for Jorga Mesfin and Vijay Ayer.

Awards and nominations


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