Interview with “Heaven and Earth ” Director, Mackonen Michael
1. Tell us a little bit about your background and how long you have been in documentaries?
I am an Ethiopian British, documentary film maker and freelance art reporter at the British media network BBC. I studied Journalism and African studies at SOAS university of London and worked in different media production companies as broadcaster and producer. I am now the CEO of the newly established African Renaissance Television Services in Ethiopia.
I have won prestigious awards including BBC Skillset millennium award for my radio documentary ‘Bridging the Gap’ about the lives of immigrants in the UK and other awards as a Journalist.
2. Can you give us a brief description about the documentary and how you came to produce it?
Heaven & Earth’ is a documentary film that tells the story of an ancient civilization’s religious tolerance, covering a millennium of Ethiopia monastic culture and ecclesiastical education.
Presenting the development of indigenous Christianity in an African setting, the film provides a corrective to still prevalent stereotypes of Africa as a dark continent in need of enlightenment by outside forces.
The film has been screened and archived at the Library of congress.
3. What were you trying to achieve with the film, and how much did the documentary affect you personally?
The film is mainly dealing with African, Ethiopian cultures and philosophy. I believe the young generation should look to the roots of African cultures in order to achieve and create authentic stories that tell the beautiful falklares and narratives of Africa. In my many screenings and Q&A sessions I came across with brilliant young film makers and producers from the continent whom totally agree with the concept and debate thoroughly during the show.
4. How widely is the documentary distributed? Any Awards?
The film has been screened in several countries and institutions, The library of Congress, Washington DC ( patented and archived), The royal Geographic Society London, Haward Sankofa DC, Liverpool, Birmingham, UK Best independent African documentary, nominee, Afro Latino film festival, Costa Rica.
5. What challenges did you face in the course of producing the documentary?
Funding, time laps with my permanent job and lack of professional crew.
6. What would you like to do next?
I am now head of the newly established Television service called ARTS TV. I am also working on other documentary scripts dealing with Music history of Ethiopia.