News Release

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Zaundra Brown
Director of Public Relations and Information
404.297.9522, ext. 1757


Award-Winning Writer, Producer & Director Brings Message of Hope to GPTC Community
Haile Gerima tells attendees, “Cinema is a weapon.”

DeKalb County - November 14, 2017

Renowned writer, filmmaker producer and director Haile Gerima brought his insight, philosophy and motivation to the campus of Georgia Piedmont Technical College.  Gerima’s visit is part of the lecture series hosted by Georgia Piedmont’s School of Education & New Media. Gerima often takes on controversial and culturally sensitive topics in his movies. “Intellectual diets comes from the cultural expression of its people,” Gerima told a crowd of about 60 people during a community master class on November 13 at the college’s DeKalb campus.

Haile Gerima

Gerima’s appearance was part of a day-long series of events on campus, book-ended by the master class in the morning and the screening of his most acclaimed movie, Sankofa, in the evening. The 1993 film is the dramatic and emotional tale of African resistance to slavery.  The Ethiopian-born writer received international acclaim by winning the first prize at the African Film Festival in Milan, Italy, as well as Best Cinematography at Africa’s premier Festival of Pan African Countries.

Gerima has used his work as a critical lens for personal growth and creative development.  “How do you overcome adversity? By telling your story,” Gerima told the audience.  He adds, “Cinema is a weapon,” as he recounted his evolving view of himself and of race.  Gerima believes that independent cinematic expression should counter the superficial and stereotype-laden films of Hollywood and should instead engage socially relevant issues. During his hour -long message to students, faculty and film enthusiasts, Gerima often referred to his “miseducation” by British teachers in Ethiopia. Those lessons fueled his view on race relations. His father was a playwright, which prompted his study of theater in Chicago.  Gerima graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles School of Film and Television.

Currently, Gerima is a professor of film at Howard University in Washington, D.C.  He has written, produced and directed several films, among them: Ashes & Embers (1982) and his most recent film, Teza (2008).  Teza was another personal drama, set in Ethiopia and Germany.  The film chronicles the return of an African intellectual to his country of birth during the repressive Marxist regime of Haile Mariam Mengistu.

“We were looking for an international person to speak to our students, and ultimately partnered with the DeKalb Public Library to bring Gerima to campus,” said Dr. Natoshia Anderson, dean of the School of Education & New Media. After the viewing of Sankofa, Gerima and Georgia Piedmont’s president, Dr. Jabari Simama, answered questions from the audience.  “Georgia Piedmont’s students benefit enormously when they have an opportunity to learn directly from leading experts in their field of study,” stated Dr. Jabari Simama, president of Georgia Piedmont Technical College.  “With Haile Gerima, our students heard from an award-winning, visionary filmmaker that bringing a strong film to life takes both artistic vision and technical skills.  Educating students in both the creative and mechanical aspects of an industry is what Georgia Piedmont does particularly well.”

Gerima is the second speaker in the college’s lecture series. Former WSB-TV news anchor Monica Pearson was the featured speaker at the first lecture, which was held last year.

Photo: Award-winning Writer & filmmaker Haile Gerima speaks to a community master class at Georgia Piedmont Technical College

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About Georgia Piedmont Technical College
Established in 1961, Georgia Piedmont Technical College (GPTC) is one of the top technical colleges in Georgia. As a student-centered institution, GPTC prepares individuals with the skills necessary to succeed in a rapidly changing, global economy. In August 2016, Georgia Piedmont was ranked among the top ten technical colleges in terms of enrollment by the Atlanta Business Chronicle. GPTC’s graduation rate is more than 74.3 percent, and its graduates secure employment at a level resulting in a 98.7 percent placement rate. With nearly 4,000 students, Georgia Piedmont’s adult education program is among the largest in the state. The college has 12 learning centers in DeKalb, Newton, Rockdale and Morgan counties. As set forth in its student catalog, Georgia Piedmont Technical College does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, creed, national or ethnic origin, sex, religion, disability, age, political affiliation or belief, genetic information, veteran status, or citizenship status (except in those special circumstances permitted or mandated by law). Contact Lisa Peters, the ADA Coordinator, at 404/297-9522, ext. 1154, or at the main DeKalb campus, 495 N. Indian Creek Drive, Clarkston, GA 30021 Room A-170; or Dr. Debra Gordon, the Title IX Coordinator, at 404/297-9522, ext. 1176, or at the main DeKalb campus, 495 N. Indian Creek Drive, Clarkston, GA 30021 Room A-103 for assistance. For more information about our graduation rates and other important program information, please visit our website at

A unit of the Technical College System of Georgia.