Ethiopian cinema, like the country’s film industry as a whole, is a new phenomena. Ethiopia’s film industry is thriving, but it has faced challenges that have kept it from reaching its full potential. Ethiopians used to enjoy live stage theater, which produced a very modest number of successful stage actors. Ethiopian films have been modernizing in the 2000s, adding Amharic language, but due to extensive home video and DVD distribution, copyright infringement and piracy have hampered their growth. This decreased in the early 2010s as a result of government involvement and policy imposition. Due to a low-budget, amateurish approach, Ethiopian film production has remained low-quality in comparison to foreign premieres, despite recent progress. Ethiopian cinema debuted in 1898, three years after the premiere of the world’s first film on December 25, 1895. However, as a result of growing societal instability, the rate of expansion has slowed dramatically. Ethiopia’s film industry has promoted historical and documentary films, which have been associated with cultural, religious, and national roots for decades, as a result of political pressure.
In a 2003 essay for Annales d’Ethiopie, Berhanou Abebbé claimed that in 1898, a Frenchman brought the first cinematic artifacts to Ethiopia and sold them to Italian minister Federico Ciccodicola. Emperor Menelik II was then given with a gift by Ciccodicola. The Majesty witnessed a variety of films over the course of decades before the first public film screening in (1909–1910), according to historians Berhanou and Richard Pankhurst’s works. Ethiopians completed and built the first cinema in 1923. MM. Baicovich, according to Berhanou, owned the first cinema, Pate, from 1909 to 1910. Many people were unsatisfied with what they saw in the early days of cinema. “People obviously didn’t like to enjoy themselves,” Berhanou quoted French historian Merab as saying in Impressions d’Ethiopie (1922).