Ethiopia Architecture and Cinema
Architecture. – From the end of the Second World War to today, from the return of the monarchy to the subsequent passage to the people’s revolutionary government, Ethiopia unfortunately it has always been in a position of weakness, its being a support economy. This is why the country, despite its huge past architectural heritage, cannot boast a contemporary national architecture, but must, also in this respect, refer to foreign interventions of an international character. However, the intervention plans for the development and planning of Addìs Abebà deserve particular attention, as well as some proposals by Le Corbusier from 1936.
According to Listofusnewspapers, the first floor by C. Valle and I. Guidi (1938) sees a city of 100,000 residents and leaves as a legacy, among other things, some significant elements such as the Market district, the Piazza, the University. The second and third floors developed by the British Abercrombie and Hennessy, between the postwar period and 1966, see a city of about 450,000 residents; there remain some major roads and some individual prestigious buildings.
The 1974 revolution shifts the focus of attention to the need for urban reform with particular regard to the problem of housing for the poor classes (about 90% of the population lives in shacks), to the inadequacy of facilities for a city of one million. of residents, and finally to the urban explosion foreseen for the next twenty years, which should lead to 2.5 million residents. The most recent intervention plan was launched under the aegis of technical cooperation by the Italian government.
Over the past forty years, Ethiopia it has seen the continuous intervention of international organizations, institutions, companies, committed to creating jobs. The opportunities are different: roads, hospitals, schools, farms, industrial plants, civil works – in a word basic infrastructures – as well as some important public works.
Among the construction companies we should mention the Scandinavian Nordconsult group, the English Bolton Hennessy, the Italian Salcost: these, and other minor ones, also for their design skills have been able to carry out public works of considerable level.
Few and almost all foreigners, mostly Europeans, are the active architects, including the French H. Chomette, the Greek CA Doxiadis, the Greek Ethiopian group Z. Enav and M. Teodoros, the Italians A. Mezzedimi and P. Chessa, and other. The architect Mezzedimi lived in Ethiopia where he designed and built 800 buildings for 28 years; among these, the telecommunications station of Adi Osri in Eritrea, the project for the Red Sea Hotel in Massawa and, among the latest, the new town hall of Addìs Abebà. He is also responsible for the Africa building with the assembly hall, and a program of agricultural settlements, a meeting point between tradition and renewal. By the French H. Chomette it is the seat of the new National Bank of Addis Abebà. The Greek group Doxiadis Associates designed, among other things, the Cathedral of Axùm. The architects Z. Enav and M. Teodoros represent innovative instances and are more open to an evolution of themes and construction methods. They are responsible for the construction of the FilHoa thermal baths in Addìs Abebà, the Ministry of Finance and an imaginative hotel tourism development program.
During the last ten years Bulgarian, Yugoslav, Russian, Japanese design groups have arrived in Ethiopia, all linked to entities capable of financing the country’s development. These are in addition to the groups that have always been present, such as the Italians, the French, the Scandinavians, the Americans, the British, who have continued the work of economic aid provided by their countries to Ethiopia. In the 1980s, a vast aid program should be noted in which the presence of Italians is particularly significant due to the number of construction companies operating there (Cogefar Impresit, Astaldi, Salcost, Finsider and Barucci). The buildings and civil works carried out by both Italian and foreign companies are mainly of a basic nature (homes, hospitals, schools, especially in areas subject to guerrilla warfare).
Cinema. – Ethiopian cinema was born in 1965 with a fictional feature film Hiru, who is her father, directed by an anonymous filmmaker. From 1968 is the documentary The rotten existence, a pamphlet against H̱āyla Selāssē and his corrupt regime. It is signed by S. Bekele, who studied in West Germany and is the dean of Ethiopian filmmakers: a documentary filmmaker who will preferably devote himself to the propaganda short film (Social complex, on the disasters of the educational system in the era of the Negus) and cultural; at the film festival of Carthage and that of Ouagadougou he was present in 1972 and 1973. The documentarian of the regime is A. Manna, who between 1977 and 1978 directed some films on the army, Ogad’en, prostitution and marathon athletes (Der weg ist lang, 1978, co-produced by the GDR). The greatest Ethiopian filmmaker and one of the most creative representatives of world black cinema, residing in the United States (he teaches history of cinema at the University of Washington), is however H. Gerima (b. In Gondar in 1946), the son of an intellectual, playwright and Orthodox priest who fought against Italian colonialism. Gerima, who studied in Chicago and UCLA in Los Angeles, Our glass, a short film shot in its country of origin. After directing in the United States the medium- length film on the cinema-theater relationship Child of Resistance (1972) and in 1975 having made his feature film debut with Bush mama (a 16 mm film about the struggle for survival of a black woman whose husband is in prison), in the same year he returned to Ethiopia where he made one of the masterpieces of African cinema, Mirt sost shi amit (” Harvest: 3000 years “), about the struggle of peasants against landowners. Between 1976 and 1978 he made a documentary on political prisoners in the USA, Wilmington 10 = US 10,000. Of the 1982 Ashers and ambers (the return to the USA of a black Vietnam veteran) and 1986 After winter: Sterling Brown, dedicated to the important African American writer. M. Papatakis also directed a fiction feature film, Gouma, in 1975.