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| 271 Yidnekachew Shumete Desalegn Interviewed by Alessandro Jedlowski Addis Ababa, February 4, 2014 Alessandro Jedlowski: How did you begin your career as a fijilmmaker? Yidnekachew Shumete Desalegn: As most of my fellow fijilmmakers here in Ethiopia, I got involved in fijilmmaking because I loved to watch fijilms. I didn’t have any formal background in fijilm. But luckily, when I was in high school, I had the chance to attend a training center that used to teach students how to operate cameras, video cameras. It was called Universal Audiovisual Training Center. And it’s now long closed. So I took a course there while I was in high school because I had such great love for fijilms.When we were kids, we didn’t have many chances to watch fijilms. My father bought a television I think around . . . twenty years ago. And that was the fijirst time that we had a television in our home. Before that, our parents took us to our relatives’ houses on weekends. And there we would have the chance to watch fijilms. AJ: It was the reason to select whom to visit. . . . YSD: Exactly. So we would regularly visit them. So, that was just the pure intent of enjoying movies, watching them. And that was how I enjoyed myself, watching movies. Other than that, when we bought theTV, we didn’t have aVCR. So having a 272 | Yidnekachew Shumete Desalegn Interview TVwasnotenoughtowatchmovies.Therewasonlyonedayaweek,IthinkSaturday evening after 10 p.m., where there was a fijilm show on Ethiopian television. They showed one feature fijilm, and that was the only feature fijilm that we could watch on TV. So it could be something like an old American production or maybe some European movies, which had been popular at that time. AJ: Were they also screening Indian fijilms? YSD: Uhm, no, not many Indian fijilms. Not at least when we hadTVs, because at that time the only things that we were allowed to see were the Talak fijilms, the “great movies.”This was only when we had theTVin our home because fijilms were shown very late at night, and we were not allowed to stay late in neighbors’ houses or in relatives’ houses. Anyway it all started like this. At that time, watching a fijilm was more than just entertainment for me. AJ: It was like a ritual. YSD: Exactly.Ilivedinthefijilms.SoIwasalwayscurioustoexploremoreaboutthem. I was watching and wondering how people made the fijilm, how they managed to create such an emotional connection with me, how they were able to provoke all those emotions. From that point on, I started developing a strong desire to learn more about fijilms. And the only chance that I could get to better understand fijilm wastogotoschool.SoatthattimeIresearchedalotandtherewasonlyonetraining center, the Universal Audiovisual Training Center, and they had this program to teach how to operate aVHS video camera.That was the only thing available at that time. I was very excited so I went to my mother and asked her: “I want to learn how to operate a camera.” She said “OK.” She paid for the school and I started going to class. By that time we already had a VCR in our home, so I was already enjoying VHS videos, renting them, maybe exchanging them with other neighbors. . . . That was an incredible time of my life! It was around the end of the 1990s. I remember that I used to rent seven or eight VHS fijilms. And I would sit in front of the TV and watch them all, all the way through . . . seven fijilms, within a day. My mother was like: “What’s wrong with you?” But I actually enjoyed watching them. I never forgot the fijilm titles, or the story. I also had this habit of writing down the type of movies I watched. I had a notebook. I used to take notes on the kind of fijilms I watched, where I did it, and what they were about. Yidnekachew Shumete Desalegn Interview | 273 So when I started going to this school it gave me another dimension to play with, I started to experiment with the camera. Even if it was a VHS camera I had to learn about framing and how to handle a camera and so forth. I really wanted to try the things that I was seeing in the fijilms, even if they were...


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