Although this film started as a dedication and biography of an artist I fell in love with when I was 4 years old, the project over the years became more of a historic documentary about the artistic legacy of the country I was born in, Ethiopia. Like many countries in the world, Ethiopia has never given their artists much relevance past their prime. Once they’ve retired and are out of the spot-light they die poor, forgotten and alone.
Aware with that reality, even though my background was portrait and editorial photography; I jumped to tackle to do Asnaketch’s documentary film the day I first met her at her two room house in Addis Ababa four years ago. I felt her exciting story needed to be told. Of course I didn’t know anything about directing, sound, nor camera operation. Once well confident with the craft however, I was faced with the issue of no equipment, lack of rental houses, local producers, or skilled production individuals (sound, grip, camera operators), in the country. So I had to import all equipment and train a film crew in order to complete the production over the years.
With this film what I’ve come to realize is not only that I’ve had the privilege to tell Asnaketch’s powerful and passionate life story but also the chance to acknowledge her colleagues and fellow artists before and during her time that were the integral part of creating the beginning of theater, music and cinema in now modern Ethiopia.
But with that came another challenge: Ethiopia does not have the resources to properly archive historical film footage. So finding archival footage of past artists was close to impossible. The only limited resource that exists is from the state owned television: Ethiopian Television. But the bureaucracy made it close to impossible.
I feel this documentary film has historical value to anyone interested in understanding the music and theater tradition of Ethiopia through the eyes of an astounding personality such as Asnaketch Worku.
Being a witness to the last four years of her life and documenting her hopes and courage was a great privilege I will always cherish. Knowing that her story will be heard and seen through this documentary film to audiences all over the world was her very last dying wish.