Ashes And Embers


Ashes And Embers

Haile GerimaEthiopia – 1982

Nay Charles is an African American Vietnam veteran who no longer fits in, can’t find a job and has difficulty establishing a connection with his politically committed girlfriend.  Depressed, the film’s antihero leaves his home state of Washington for a new, better life in Los Angeles where he ends up arrested by the police.

Like his protagonist, director Haile Gerima is both drawn to and skeptical of the Black nationalist ideology espoused by Charles’ girlfriend and her discussion group.  Charles’ alienation from both middle class African Americans who have accommodated themselves to the system and radicals willing to change society is rooted in the institutionalized racism of white society, which for the most part remains an invisible but powerful presence.  Like other L.A. Rebellion filmmakers, Gerima illustrates that racism, as well as Third World Liberation struggles, through photo and film montages of news film material.  Charles’ grandmother represents the tough fighting spirit of a generation that survived slavery and Jim Crow, her lush, green farm returning us metaphorically to the rural Ethiopia of Gerima’s youth.  In the end, Gerima places his faith in African American youths, who represent a future in which they will stand tall, a final vision of utopia after the grim lessons of contemporary race relations in America.

Before completing production on Ashes & Embers, Gerima founded Mypheduh Films to distribute both his own work and that of other African filmmakers being ignored by American distributors.  Opening at New York’s Film Forum, Ashes and Embers has been screened widely on the festival circuit.

Jan-Christopher Horak

Original Title Ashes And Embers
German Title Asche und Glut
French Title Ashes And Embers
Other Titles Ashes And Embers
Directed by Haile Gerima
Country Ethiopia
Available Formats
Screenplay Haile Gerima
Film Editing Haile Gerima
Soundtrack Brother Ah and the Sounds of Awareness
Cinematography Augustin E. Cubano
Sound Abdul Hafiz, Shirikiana Aina
Production Haile Gerima, Lenora Vernon
Runtime 120 Min.
Language Englisch
John Anderson Ned Charles
Evelyn A. Blackwell Grossmutter - Grand-mère
Norman Blalock Jim
Kathy Flewellen Liza Jane
Uwezo Flewellen Kimathi

«Dieser Film macht uns auf einprägsame Weise die Widersprüche bewusst, mit denen Afro-Amerikaner tagtäglich konfrontiert sind. Und er macht uns überdeutlich klar, wie weit diese Gesellschaft geht, um ihre Ziele zu erreichen. Ja, die Landfrage ist hier die gleiche wie in Vietnam, und wo es um Land geht, da mag das Leben der Menschen, die es bewohnen, unverständlich und unbedeutend scheinen. Aber die weitreichenden Implikationen für die Zukunft sind real und erschreckend.»
Bruce M. Terry, New York Amsterdam News

«Ashes & Embers est de l'agit-prop. Il ne cherche pas à nous divertir. Il ne veut nous voir rester assis, y entrer, fermer notre cerveau et avoir du plaisir. Le film de Gerima prend le risque d'une narration non-linéaire, semi-expérimentale, semi-narrative et par-dessus tout d'un appel aux armes. Dans le film, au style très Resnais, Nay Charles (le héros) passe à travers le temps, et l'espace l'aisance et l'anarchie de la mémoire. Ce qui est pariculièrement approprié car Nay Charles est la figure avant toute chose de la dislocation.»
Brandon Wilson


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