Still from Asni, released in 2014. Director: Rachel Samuel. Editor and Co-Producer: Yemane Demissie.

Brabson Filmmaker Lecture & Screening: Yemane I. Demissie

April 1, 2017
Steinberg Auditorium

Award-winning independent filmmaker Yemane I. Demissie will deliver the Brabson Filmmaker Lecture, followed by a screening of Asni: the Life of Asnaketch Worku, as part of the symposium ARCHIVE | Interdisciplinary methods of understanding the archive: violence, suppression and restoration.

Demissie's work includes two narrative feature films, Tumult and Dead Weight, and two feature documentaries, Twilight Revelations: Episodes in the Life and Times of Emperor Haile Selassie and Asni: the Life of Asnaketch Worku. Currently, he is producing The Quantum Leapers: Ethiopia 1916-1975, a social history documentary series about the Emperor Haile Selassie era. Demissie has received international recognition for his work, including the John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, the Berlin Prize, the Walter Mosley Award for Best Documentary, the California Artists' Fellowship, and the American Film Institute's Filmmaker's Grant. He has also been awarded fellowships and residencies at Bellagio, MacDowell, Dora Maar, Yaddo, Bogliasco, Civitella Ranieri, and the American Academy in Berlin. He is an associate professor in the undergraduate department of Film & Television at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, where he teaches courses in film production, writing, directing, and cinema history and criticism.

Asni is a feature documentary film on an extraordinary artist named Asnaketch Worku, who is as much a cultural icon to Ethiopians as Billie Holiday is to Americans and Edith Piaf to the French. Worku was the preeminent actor and singer who dominated the Ethiopian stage and airwaves between the mid-1950s and early 2000s. Asni, as she was popularly known, lived her life on the edge of her artistry, over the edge of her passions. She brought high standards to theater and excitement to music in Ethiopia between the 1950s and 1970s. Her gift and transparent nature made her infectious to audiences, not only in Ethiopia but also around the world. As there are no significant publications or films about the development of the performing arts in Ethiopia during the imperial era, Asni is a documentary reimagined from the interviews of the pioneer artists and musicians, and their personal archives.

This lecture and screening are supported by the Brabson Library & Educational Foundation as part of a grant for the course Digital Filmmaking: City Stories. View the class blog here>>

About the ARCHIVE Symposium

International and interdisciplinary in scope, ARCHIVE | Interdisciplinary methods of understanding the archive: violence, suppression and restoration will explore the archive (broadly conceived) as a site of interpretation, projection, and collection, in both theoretical and physical contexts. A central problem of the archive—namely its relationship to violence—will also be explored, as well the role of film and cinematic media in establishing, perpetuating, or subverting the archive.

In addition to the Brabson Filmmaker Lecture and screening, the symposium will feature a keynote address by theorist Marlene Manoff, as well as panels exploring methods of documenting, projecting, collecting, and interpreting as they relate to the archive, considering concepts such as erasure and suppression; alternative forms of remembering and traces; primary as well as representational and symbolic violence; the dynamics of suppression and loss; and other problems bound up with violence and memory. For full details, including the schedule and information about participants, visit the symposium website.

The symposium is organized by the Seminar on Memory & Violence and chaired by Heidi Kolk (associate director of the American Culture Studies Program in Arts & Sciences) and Monika Weiss (associate professor in the Sam Fox School). It is sponsored by the Center for the Humanities in Arts & Sciences, with additional support from the Sam Fox School, Olin Library, and the American Culture Studies program in Arts & Sciences.