ADWA: AN AFRICAN VICTORY (1999) with Haile Gerima: Block Museum - Northwestern University
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ADWA: AN AFRICAN VICTORY (1999) with Haile Gerima

A man with medium skin tone, a furrowed brown, and square glasses stares contemplatively beyond the frame
6:30 PM

Event Details

Date & Time:

Fri May 12, 2023
6:30 PM


The Block Museum of Art
40 Arts Circle Drive
Evanston, IL 60208


Open to the public



(Haile Gerima, 1999, 35 mm, 96 min)

With filmmaker Haile Gerima in person


Made in commemoration of the centennial anniversary of the 1896 Battle of Adwa. Haile Gerima's eponymous film tells the story of Ethiopia's revolutionary struggle against an imposing Italian colonial project. Part autobiography and part documentary, Gerima's
Adwa (1996) presents a sweeping account of the historical events that paved the way for Ethiopia's liberation under the leadership of Emperor Menelik and Empress Taitu. Gerima gathers and interweaves oral accounts, allegories, songs and chants, as well as archival documents in an effort to quilt a response to a question posed early in the film: "Why didn't you come earlier if you wanted to know history?" The battle aids in the search for an answer and leads us to a central theme in Gerima's larger body of work. By filming the landscapes and the people of the region, Gerima demonstrates the role cinema can play in preserving memory, summoning history, and bringing both to life through the power of generational transmission in storytelling.

Following the screening, Haile Gerima will discuss the film with Ivy Wilson, Director of the Black Arts Consortium at Northwestern University

Haile Gerima and Shirikiana Aina are 2023 Hoffman Visiting Artists for Documentary Media, a short-term filmmaker residency at Northwestern’s School of Communications funded by a generous gift from Jane Steiner Hoffman and Michael Hoffman.

About the artist:

Haile Gerima is an independent filmmaker and professor of film at Howard University in Washington, D.C. Born and raised in Ethiopia, Gerima emigrated to the United States in 1967. Following in the footsteps of his father, a dramatist and playwright, Gerima studied acting in Chicago before entering the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, where his exposure to Latin American films inspired him to mine his own cultural legacy. He is a leading member of the L.A. Rebellion film movement, also known as the Los Angeles School of Black Filmmakers. After completing his thesis film, Bush Mama (1975), Gerima received international acclaim with Harvest: 3000 Years (1976), an Ethiopian drama that won the Grand Prize at the Locarno film festival. His 1993 epic, Sankofa, a formally ambitious tale of a plantation slave revolt was ignored by U.S. distributors, but Gerima tapped into African American communities, and booked sold-out screenings in independent theaters around the country. In 1996, Gerima founded the Sankofa Video and Bookstore in Washington, DC., a cultural and intellectual space that offers opportunities for self-expression, interaction, discussion and analysis through community events such as film screenings, book signings, scholar forums and artist showcases. Gerima continues to distribute and promote his own films, including his festival success, Teza (2008), which won the Jury and Best Screenplay awards at the Venice Film Festival. He also lectures and conducts workshops in alternative screenwriting and directing both within the U.S. and internationally.

Co-presented with support from the Michael and Jane Hoffman Visiting Artist Series and the MFA in Documentary Media and the Black Arts Consortium at Northwestern University.


Contact The Block Museum of Art for more information: (847) 491-4000 or email us at