Documentary

 

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Detail of figurative and decorative painting in the renowned western ceiling in the nave of the church of Yimrihane Kristos, in great need of conservation and cleaning. Painting on wood. Presumable 12th century. Attribution unknown.  © SCECH

 

DOCUMENTARY as well as educational film is supported by SCECH. An educational film would be useful in both practical and preventive training in conservation. A knowledgeable documentary, although this is not explicitly stated in our charter, is in line with our objective to promote deeper knowledge on the Ethiopian cultural heritage and responsible tourism. Even though our main priorities are conservation, education and research and the practical arrangement as well as implementation of a documentary on Yimrihane Kristos (YK) thus has to be entirely handed over to professionals in the field this, as well as an educational film, could be of great importance.

The former should make the richness and beauty of Ethiopian culture better known internationally, as well as communicate knowledge gained during a planned inter-disciplinary research, tentatively named The hidden and the forgotten, focused on YK and the time of the Zagwe Dynasty (see link below). The latter would be a way of communicating practical knowledge by moving image – an excellent tool in order to in detail explain practical things – about heritage management to locally responsible and craftsmen on the countryside and secure the preservation of Ethiopia’s heritage in the long run

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The painting restorer Carmen Deas, specialized in Occidental and Byzantine wall painting, removing dust with a brush of badger hair on the eastern wall in the north aisle in the church during our examination of the church and the palace 2012. To show the cleaning step by step during conservation in progress would be exiting to do in a documentary. © SCECH

 

A documentary – guided by the knowledge we have of Ethiopian culture and religion – presenting conservation in progress step by step and the cleaning process from dark and dirty paintings to brilliant and colorful in a so magnificent church as YK, should in an exiting way convey a true image of this country, something that Ethiopia deserves as an ancient high culture with great art and architecture, yet unknown to most of the people outside the country.

Plans for a documentary with starting point in the YK pilot project focused on religious, historical and cultural aspects related to this have been discussed with two experienced documentary filmmakers, Joachim Demmer and Martin Rosefeldt, based in Berlin and partly working for the German-French broadcast channel ARTE (Association Relative à la Télévision Européenne) considered to be the best broadcasting channel for culture in Europe. So has also been done as regards an educational film intended to serve as a pedagogical tool.

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Detail from the Baptism. Christ flanked by two angels, after first cleaning test with soft sponge (Akapad) of the face of the angel to the right, which made it looking more clear and colorful. Still remains a second cleaning in order to make a final result. Mural painting, al secco. Presumable from 12th century. Attribution unknown.  © SCECH

 

In this context we have received a request from Professor Shiferaw Bekele at Addis Ababa University, one of the foremost historians in the country, on account of a national educational program on preventive conservation. This program is planned to include a booklet with instructions and a DVD-film to be used at workshops. Mentioned film photographers or domestic filmmakers could make a tailored film for this purpose in collaboration with members in SCECH, specialized in the field of care and preservation of cultural heritage buildings and objects.

The purpose should be to instruct responsible persons, priests and craftsmen with skill suitable in preventive conservation and heritage management on regional and local level how to handle and take care of ancient buildings, paintings, fixtures and manuscripts. These workshops – were this kind of film would be excellent in order to demonstrate how to do and not to do – should focus on measures to prevent further damages due to a range of reasons and help the locals to keep all which belongs to their cultural heritage in good condition.

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Inhabitants and priests gathered for one of several meetings in the village of Yimrihane Kristos, which took place before our examination 2012. Workshops dedicated to preventive conservation as well as heritage management, including a tailored educational DVD-movie and an informative booklet, with key figures: responsible priests and skilled craftsmen who could be engaged in this on the countryside, could be an efficient way to secure preservation of cultural heritage in the long run.  © EHHCDA

 

The value of an educational movie of this kind should thus not be underestimated. Not either the scientific and educational importance of a documentary film focused on the architectural and pictorial program of the church of Yimrihane Kristos during conservation in progress, which also could be useful in graduate education in practical conservation, history and science of art.

But the main objective for such a documentary – besides a monograph about the site of Yimrihane Kristos after finalized conservation and research – would be to make this colorful culture and magnificent art of Ethiopia better known internationally.

This way of exposing a to the most people outside the country still yet unknown Ethiopia, could certainly make an impact, not least on those interested in culture and religion, and attract more people to visit the country. This in turn would bring income to Ethiopia both nationally and locally – important in a country that still partly suffering from great poverty.

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The wonderfully soft and fertile surroundings of the Yimrihane Kristos site in the mountainous landscape of Lasta, situated in the Ethiopian highlands.  © SCECH

 

The tourism to Ethiopia is still low in spit of all the beauty of the nature and culture this country can present. A well made documentary, guided by the knowledge we have about Ethiopia and the Yimrihane Kristos site, inscribed in the beautiful landscape of Lasta, may deepen the knowledge and promote responsible tourism and thus be of great importance both culturally and economical.


Links:

ARTE and Wikipedia’s presentation of this broadcast channel

SCECH’s charter                                                                                                                                         Cross disciplinary research connected to the YK project – The hidden and the forgotten