The Cinema Industry in Ethiopia

By Girmachew Gashaw

The first Ethiopian public cinema house was established by an Algerian citizen who came from France in 1890 E.C. Back then, citizens were not familiar with cinema, they were fearful of watching a film on a white fabric, stretched on one of the walls of that house. And people said, " How dare this Ferengis' (White men) summoning devil do magic on a piece of cloth."

As the saying goes, the then cinema house was dubbed by the public as Satan house or devil house. Religious leaders who wield influence over the public were prohibiting citizens not to go to this house to see the works of the devil. The house still stands by Mega Amphitheater.

As the people did not accept the idea of cinema house then, even if it introduced cinema technology in Ethiopia, the trend had no chance to continue as a cinema house more than two decades. The cinema house was shut down. Until the first Ethiopian cinema house named- Trace was opened in 1917 E.C, cinema technology was brushed aside for years due to lack of acceptance by the public at large.

However, the opening of Terrace cinema house created new insights in the Ethiopia history of cinema technology. After that numerous cinema houses have been emerging as entertainment options for recreation to those who enjoy and adore watching screen movies.

Following the footstep of their predecessors, nowadays, in relation to the increasing number of films, numerous cinema houses are mushrooming. Understanding that it is a lucrative business, investors are also being attracted to this new venture. As a result of this, it is common to see cinema houses here and there especially in the capital.

The increasing number of such cinema houses by its self has dual advantage. First, it serves as an option of entertainment for those who enjoy movie. Second, it gives great relief for film producers who have been suffering a lot due to the absence of cinema houses. The expansion of cinema houses also helps film producers who spend a huge outlay to bring forth quality and standardize films to their audiences and motivate script writers to create new story ideas. It as well helps them to produce more local films.

On the other hand, when the number of investors increases, the situation facilitates competition among the cinema houses. This compels them to provide quality service to movie goers. The competition is also opportunity for audience to watch a number of qualified and standardise films. Yet, cinema houses in the capital now are not enough when compared with the increasing number of films and film audiences. This has left movie-goers with no other entertainment options and it has been a challenge for film producers to bring forth new films.

...to be continued...

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