Haile Gerima Quotes

I am not interested only in telling a story, but I want to tell it my way. I don’t want my accent, my temperament, my narrative style to be compromised to fit into a mold of the Hollywood type.

When you don’t work together you can’t emerge as a force. It becomes what some call a “lonely struggle” and individual self-destruction.

The true story is that black people need to tell their history. Very few films are made by black people about slavery. That itself is a crime because slavery is a very important historical event that has held our people hostage. Forget white people’s role in it. In the end what’s important is black people remain and live with the scars and psychological issues.

There are filmmakers like me in different parts of the world that have a story they want to tell, and it’s a story that comes out of a certain historical reality within their own life. Then you get committed all the way and however long it takes, stay very committed.

The system knows how to cherry pick black people. It’s like affirmative action – once a year, one is recognized. But what has to occur is self-emergence so if they ignore you, you don’t have to disappear.

For any movement to emerge, it has to be innovatively independent from the mainstream cinema, and I don’t see that much.

There’s no other way but struggling, forging ahead to do the film.

Success is really when you create a space, a piece of art, and people come in and say, that’s my story – when they claim it.

Most young people make films to be accepted, to be discovered, when in fact that was the last idea with the group I went to film school with. To be discovered was not our intention. Our intention was to tell our story our way, and make our own mistakes and learn from film to film.

I think not many young people are willing to pay the price of telling their own story.

When the system does not recognize me I’m not devastated.

If you never did anything for your own freedom, you’re not worth a human being in my view.

There has to be consistent emergence of two or three films – narratively, stylistically, consistently demonstrating you are here to go on. And on that kind of basis, I’m not seeing much. I’m just waiting to see.

You have to have a very strong cash flow for a film to really stay in theaters. You have to have the advertising capacity to sustain and follow the kind of press coverage.

When my film went to the Venice Film Festival and won the best script writing, the jury [prize], it didn’t go to my head. I know how many black filmmakers that I am operating with whose name will never be mentioned. But I’m part of them in that silent existence.

A lot of young black people in America, and even in Africa and Brazil, would say that they are telling their story, but most of the films are like application forms with the formulaic ideas of Hollywood.

Tarantino is a spoiled little white kid. He can do any movie he wants and nobody can do anything about it.

I think once you have films in certain festivals you begin to have name recognition, and there are possibilities. Especially for independent filmmakers, it’s always good to try the international market because it doesn’t have the same kind of baggage.

To me the industry has always said that the lovers and haters and principal characters will always be white in Hollywood, and black people will always be appendages of those kinds of dramas, or they will be comedic outlets. It will never change.

Most, especially the young filmmakers, do not see strength in communal or collective existence. They just think they’re going to conquer the world as individuals. There is no world like that. In cinema it’s always, even in Hollywood, a collective surge.

I think once you have films in certain festivals you begin to have name recognition, and there are possibilities.

I really do not care what the white world is doing. I care about black people building the monument on slavery.

It’s not always expected of filmmakers to do stereotyped stories. But one has to be willing to travel to festivals and hook up with people, engage people intellectually about your passion and the kinds of films that interest you, and sooner or later you find people that have the same affinity that you have.

You have to be willing to put everything you’ve got towards the project. That to me is very important. And it may not be part of the fad, being the clich├ęd kind of film that’s going to be successful.

To me, entertainment is really the new plantation. It’s the new sugar, the new cotton, that black people work for somebody else to be richer than them.