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| 261 Behailu Wassie Interviewed by Michael W. Thomas Addis Ababa, March 8, 2016 Michael W. Thomas: Thank you for speaking with me today, Behailu. Can you please introduced yourself and tell me about how you joined the fijilm industry? Behailu Wassie: I never thought I would be a fijilmmaker. When I was in university I studied agriculture (crop science) because I was forced to do it, even though I was one of the top students. After I graduated I rented some land and started a farming business, but I didn’t enjoy my studies or work in agriculture. I wasn’t passionate about the fijield, and because it is a seasonal business, in the down season I managed to fijind time, and that’s when I started writing. This was when I found my true passion. Farming gave me the time to contemplate myself more, and I started to read more as a habit. Then, in 2009, my friend offfered me a post as a writer in a sport newspaper. So I started to write articles and it helped me to develop my writing and gave me space to express my thoughts about my country, but as it was a sport paper, I didn’t have the freedom to write about these things in detail.Then I started to take short-term fijilm training courses and I loved it so much because I was able to express myself and my thoughts in a clear way, and that is how I became a fijilmmaker. 262 | Behailu Wassie Interview MWT: And what was your fijirst fijilm? BW: YaLij, 2010/2011. It was a very challenging process, but I found it easy to express myself through fijilm. It was a big learning curve for me because I wrote and directed it and learned many things in the process of making it. It was such a big part in my career and made me who I am. Through the experience of making this fijilm I realized how Ethiopian technology is very backwards compared to the rest of the world.The fijilm also highlighted how people who are obsessed with technology can becomeisolatedinEthiopiansocietyastherecanbeaclashwithourtraditionalway of living. It is particularly these sort of ideas, which emerge from the ambivalences of our contemporary society and culture, that I like to express and share through fijilm. I really like that I can use fijilm to express myself or raise these issues, but it is up to the audience to judge and challenge their preconceived ideas, to look at things in diffferent ways through fijilm. My aim is to use fijilm to open up discussions on these issues, it is not to make right or wrong judgments. I was lucky with this fijirst fijilm as it went down well with audiences and critics, which gave me a good platform to build my career. After that, I made my second fijilm Belideté Ken, which was released in 2012, then came Sené 30, Ayrak, and Utopia. These three fijilms became very successful in Ethiopia and helped me grow even more in this industry. Whenever I make fijilms I gain economically, but they also contribute to who I am; I learn a lot and I grow as a person through making fijilms. When I want to raise an issue I always take my time. Making a fijilm is very expensive and challenging in this country as none of us have professional training, but we are achieving a lot and doing well; it has become a great love of mine. MWT: Canyoutellmemoreaboutyourdiffferentfijinancialandtechnicalexperiences with making fijilms? BW: I try to use the latest technology for each of my fijilms. Because technology is improving so quickly, this means that we are also pushed to grow and learn quickly in terms of production, just to be able to keep up. But what is really important for me is not the technology or production quality but the idea at the heart of the story. Personally, I don’t like fantasy fijilms or fijilms that don’t relate to real life. What really matters to me are stories that engage with the issues of our society. For me, the thing that makes me happy is when people talk about the issues in my fijilms and when my fijilms strike a chord with society and people’s conscience. I am Behailu...


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MARC Record
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