The Film Guzo: Interview With Director Aida Ashenafi

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Wednesday, April 22, 2009

New York (Tadias) – The following is an interview with Ethiopian-born filmmaker Aida Ashenafi. Her latest documentary Guzo (Amharic for Journey), which won first place at the 3rd Annual Addis International Film Festival last month, is scheduled to premier in Washington, DC, on May 9, 2009.

The film chronicles the interaction between two young residents of Addis Ababa and their peers in the Ethiopian countryside. Over the course of 20-days both the urbanites and country folks are forced to confront stereotypes about each other and grapple with issues of gender and privilege.

Aida Ashenafi

Tadias: Aida, congratulations on winning the first place
at the 2009 Addis International Film Festival.

Aida Ashenafi: Thank-you very much! It is always a great honor when your hard work is recognized and enjoyed by many.

My role in the making of Guzo was to be the creative force as the director as well as the producer. I feel blessed everyday because I thoroughly enjoy being a part of the experience whether it is being I am directing, interacting with the cast and crew, editing, or even creating marketing material. This is what I love to do. I filmed and directed Guzo over the course of 20 days. Basically, we transplanted two urban Addis young adults and gave them a taste of rural Ethiopia. I really hope that everyone will go and see the movie which will be premiering in DC on May 9, 2009 with follow up shows on Memorial Day weekend May 23-24 at George Washington University’s Lisner Auditorium.

The film crew at work (photo courtesy of Mango Production)

(photo courtesy of Mango Production)

Tadias: What inspires you most about filmmaking?

Aida: I have always loved the art of storytelling and engaging behind the lens of the camera. Guzo was a project that both inspired and intrigued me from the beginning. As my filmmaking background is mostly fiction films, not documentary, I feel that Guzo is more entertaining and tremendously relatable whether you come from the city, the countryside, Ethiopian, American, European etc…It crosses many boundaries while touching on human issues that bond us all.

Tadias: You were a New Yorker before transplanted yourself and began living and working in Ethiopia. What is your advice to aspiring Ethiopian-American filmmakers and investors who are interested in producing movies in Ethiopia?

Aida: My most important piece of advice whether you may be an aspiring film maker or an investor is patience. Patience, especially in Ethiopia, will go a long way because everything takes time. Secondly, I feel that it is so important to look for a great story to tell. Finally, one really needs to associate themselves with key people that will push you forward and that have complementary skills that will help you achieve your goals.

Tadias: Aida, thank you from all of us at Tadias and good luck.

Aida: Thank you Tadias Magazine for the pleasure of this interview and the additional spotlight you have brought to my film Guzo-The Journey.

VIDEO: Interview with Academy Award Nominee Leelai Demoz (Tadias TV)
In the following interview with Tadias TV, Academy Award nominee Leelai Demoz, speaks about his role as one of the judges at the 2009 Addis International Film Festival and his experience as a filmmaker. The documentary Guzo (The Journey), directed by Aida Ashenafi won first place in this year’s competition. Leelai’s interview was taped in Los Angeles. Part two of our Ethiopians in Hollywood series features filmmaker Zeresenay Berhane Mehari, who worked as Cinematographer and 2nd Unit Director for Guzo.

Part Two: Featuring Filmmaker Zeresenay (Zee) Berhane Mehari

14 Responses to “The Film Guzo: Interview With Director Aida Ashenafi”

  1. 1 salem Apr 22nd, 2009 at 7:20 pm

    I saw the trailer for this film online and I want to see it badly. I live close to DC so I will go see it for sure? Where is it going to be shown?

  2. 2 another new yorker Apr 23rd, 2009 at 5:39 pm

    Hey Aida, nyc misses you but we are all so happy and proud that you are doing great artistic work back home…just wanted to let you know that PBS has a great outlet for independent documentary film makers that they promote…you should look at that avenue…congrats once again…

  3. 3 Guzo - The Journey Apr 23rd, 2009 at 8:54 pm

    Thank-you for your comments! The film will premiere on May 9,2009 at GW’s Lisner Auditorium. It is located on the corner of 21st & H Street in NW Washington, DC. Showtime is 8pm. Doors open @ 7pm. We look forward to seeing you there!

  4. 4 nolawi Apr 29th, 2009 at 3:21 pm

    This was betam betam (very) good film…

  5. 5 TY from NYC Apr 30th, 2009 at 4:25 pm

    This film shows the great quality of Ethiopians as a whole. Great film and a must see for all. This is one of those films I categorize as one you need to have in your library. From an expat perspective, this film gave me a deeper understanding of what life is like for people living outside of Addis Abeba.

  6. 6 Kristine Terralavoro Jun 1st, 2009 at 11:32 am

    Congratulations Aida!

    This is your old friend Kristine from Ithaca College. I’m so proud of your work. I was showing my kids recently some pictures of us on that random weekend to Nottingham, England. I just wanted to find you and say hello. It was a surprise and pleasure to find out about the work you are doing. All the best to you. And I hope to be able to see it for myself if it makes its way to San Francisco.

  7. 7 Todd Paonessa Jun 23rd, 2009 at 11:23 pm

    Aida! I am also in SF. If you make your way back to the states and to CA you can see Kristine and I. Can’t wait to see the film. Hope you are well and would love to touch base with you. Get on Facebook… please! Todd P.

  8. 8 abaynesh asrat Aug 9th, 2009 at 6:34 pm

    Congratulations Aida for your outstanding work.
    Thank you Tadias for sending the information.



  9. 9 Aida Ashenafi Aug 20th, 2009 at 1:11 pm

    Hellow everyone. this is aida ashenafi from addis. Please help me get in touch with Todd Paonessa, an old friend that posted a message. Greatley appreciated. For the record, i love Tadias. Thank you for support!

  10. 10 Mai-Kim Dang Sep 23rd, 2009 at 8:32 pm

    Dear Aida,

    I have been trying to contact you because if I receive a fulbright I would be
    doing research on Ethiopian Cinema in 2010 in Addis Ababa and if I am there I
    would love to speak with you and learn more about your work, Mango productions
    and the film industry. Please e-mail me at

    Mai-Kim T. Dang

  11. 11 Samrawit Girma Jan 23rd, 2012 at 3:25 am

    Hi Aida

    I am an inspiring film maker, I live in Addis Ababa and joined the film production by accident, but apparently fell in love with it. I didn’t get the chance to see your work, but my gut tells me you are the person i want to meet and work with. I truly believe I’ve the talent, but i also believe that I’ve a lot to learn.
    Hope you meet you soon :)

  1. 1 Ethiopians in Hollywood: Interview with Academy Award Nominee Leelai Demoz (Tadias TV) at Tadias Magazine Pingback on Apr 29th, 2009 at 9:29 pm
  2. 2 Canada: Selam Festival to Feature Guzo and Wayna at Tadias Magazine Pingback on Jul 13th, 2009 at 2:01 pm
  3. 3 Guzo: The Award-Winning Ethiopian Film to Screen in New York at Tadias Magazine Pingback on Aug 5th, 2009 at 12:13 pm
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