Ashes and Embers (1982): Haile Gerima’s Vietnam War Drama (Black)

Haile Gerima made a most interesting debut with Ashes and Embers, starring John Anderson as a disillusioned black veteran of the Vietnam War.

In 1983, director Haile Gerima won the FIPRESCI Prize at the Berlin Film Fest.


John Anderson as Ned Charles
Evelyn A. Blackwell as Grandma
Norman Blalock as Jim
Kathy Flewellen as Liza Jane
Uwezo Flewellen as Kimathi
Barry Wiggins as Randolph

About Haile Gerima:

Born and raised in Gondar, Ethiopia, by a father who was a playwright, Gerima traveled across the countryside staging local plays.

Gerima emigrated to the US in 1968 to study theatre. He enrolled in acting classes at the Goodman School of Drama in Chicago. As he stated to Los Angeles Times: “When I was growing up, I wanted to work in theater—it never occurred to me I could be a filmmaker because I was raised on Hollywood movies that pacified me to be subservient. Filmmaking isn’t encouraged or supported by the Ethiopian government.”

In 1970, he attended the University of California where he earned Bachelor’s and Master’s of Fine Arts degrees in film.

He is a member of a generation of new black filmmakers, known as the Los Angeles School of Black filmmakers, along with Charles Burnett (Killer of Sheep), Jamaa Fanaka (Penitentiary), Ben Caldwell (I and I), Larry Clark and Julie Dash (Daughters of the Dust).