Dana Romanoff

INTRODUCTION

WE GROW FROM WHERE OUR ROOTS ARE SET. Because of this truth, even though I moved by the time I was four year old, first to Ethiopia’s cosmopolitan capital (Addis Abeba), and then between Europe and the United States, I am still very much the little girl from a small village. My center, my source and my heart, has always remained in the Ethiopian countryside.

I began to envision Guzo in 2007 during one of my frequent trips to the rural areas of Ethiopia. The project took shape while filming a documentary about Ethiopia’s water crisis with an all-female film crew. Internationally- renowned photographer and storyteller, Dana Romanoff, was integral to the project. Romanoff’s work is published, exhibited and praised around the globe and she is the recipient of numerous awards.

On the pages of Guzo you will view a day in the intimate lives of six tribes – the Hamar, Tigray, Afar, Raya, Harrar, and Lasta Lalibela peoples – from their customs, culture, traditions and religious practices – to their dwellings, agricultural work and the startling landscape upon which they roam. Hopefully through these images you’ll also feel the deep and essential beauty of my ancient peoples. Despite the revelatory grace and allure of the images, for the most part, they are unposed moments caught by the camera’s lens.

I created Guzo for curious and like-minded people, for Ethiopians like myself who are raised abroad, and for my own children – who I hope will one day have the opportunity to experience living the pure, harmonious and profound existence of Ethiopians.

GELILA BEKELE is a model, humanitarian, social activist, and filmmaker. Born in Ethiopia, she spends most her life shuttling between Europe and the United States.

Bekele’s modeling career began in 2006 working with Ford Models, New York and Paris. Bekele is currently represented by Women (360) Model Management (New York), and Premium Models (Paris). She is featured in several beauty campaigns including those for Levi’s, Diesel, Tory Burch, Anna Sui, Michael Kors, H&M, Pinko, Pantene and L’Oreal, and has appeared in leading magazines and numerous other publications.

Bekele devotes much of her time to aiding people in Ethiopia, as well as globally, through her charity involvements focusing mainly on the issue of fundamental resources, particularly access to clean water and education. She is presently pursuing her passion as a documentary filmmaker. Her most recent release (2015) is Mai: Life is not Honey. Bekele is also the author of the book Guzo! (2016), which documents the daily lives of native Ethiopians.

Bryan Whitely