This article explores ways to bridge the critical divide between African cinema and the commercial, digital video films being produced on the continent, focusing specifically on the Amharic-language films of the Ethiopian film industry. Cinema in Ethiopia is distinct from other experiences of cinema in Africa and yet largely unstudied because of the inaccessibility of Amharic to many Western-based scholars. This article will present original research into the (video) film experience in Ethiopia by offering localized perceptions and exploring specific Ethiopian films from a broad film studies perspective. After suggesting possible aesthetic comparisons between African cinema films and locally made popular films in Ethiopia and acknowledging both local and global influences on filmmaking in Ethiopia, I argue that African film and media studies should start to look beyond the moralizing discourse that has long dominated the scholarship and learn from the pleasure and popularity generated by video films in diverse African contexts.