Skip to main content

BUSH MAMA

USA, 1975 (MIFF 1979)

Director: Haile Gerima

Haile Genma shot Bush Mama in America before returning to his native Ethiopia to make Harvest 3000 Years (Melbourne Festival 1977). In both films he explores a complex social reality and the radical film language needed to deal with such problems.

Dorothy, a Black woman, lives with her eleven year old daughter, Luan, trying to make ends meet on welfare in the Los Angeles ghetto. She is pregnant, and her husband, TC is in prison for a crime he didn't commit.

Dorothy spends hours travelling to unemployment offices to wait for jobs that don't exist. An insensitive social worker tries to pressure her into having an abortion: the incident triggers a nightmarish fantasy in her mind. Gradually, the realistic picture of the world around her begins to be infiltrated with more comforting scenes from her imagination.

On the one hand, her fantasies are a way of escaping the harsh realities and resigning herself to an alienated passivity. On the other hand, her dreams contain the seeds of liberating social action, which are encouraged by Luan's militant African friend, Angie and by TC who is organising political action in jail.

Finally, when Luan is raped and she herself is beaten, Dorothy is catapulted into radicalised political awareness.

Haile Gerima

Born in Ethiopia: 1946. Works in USA. Features: Child of Resistance, Bush Mama (1975), Harvest: 3000 Years (in Ethiopia, 1976), Wilmington 10 - USA 10,000 (11978).

See also...

WILMINGTON 10 - USA 10,000

During racial disorders in Wilmington, South Carolina, in 1971, a group of black militants, led by Ben Chavis, according to witnesses, had organised armed forays, sniping and firebombings from a ... More »

HARVEST: 3000 YEARS

Haile Genma, an Ethiopian-born director, returned to his country to make this film in 1974, just before the fall of Haile Selassie Harvest is a dramatised documentary account of the struggle for ... More »

Next Door

An eight year old boy is left at home alone for an evening. He listens to the radio and overhears a quarrelling couple next door. By the time his parents return, he has outgrown his babyhood. The ... More »

Leroy the Magician

Leroy is a magician and will play little tricks. He will become a saint, or threaten to kill you. But Leroy has some big tricks up his sleeve also - dark, dangerous magic. ... More »

SHAMPOO

Shampoo offers an unrivalled collection of stars: produced by Warren Beatty, directed by Hal Ashby and co-scripted by Beatty and Robert Towne. It features Beatty, Julie Christie, Goldie Hawn and Jack ... More »

Quiddity Tree

A fantasy film about man and nature, in which the interrelationships of man and his environment are symbolically revealed. ... Jury Prize, Bilbao. Bronze Medal, New York. ... More »

Select a festival
Search The Film Archive
Browse By Director