Ethiopian cinema, like the country’s whole film industry, is a very recent development. The film business in Ethiopia is thriving, but it has experienced obstacles that have prevented it from attaining its full potential. Ethiopians used to enjoy live theater, which produced a small number of successful actors. Ethiopian films have been modernizing in the 2000s, adding Amharic language, although copyright infringement and piracy have limited their growth due to widespread home video and DVD distribution. As a result of government engagement and policy imposition in the early 2010s, this lessened. Despite recent progress, Ethiopian film production has remained low-quality in compared to foreign premieres due to a low-budget, amateurish approach. Ethiopian cinema began in 1898, three years after the world’s first film, which premiered on December 25, 1895. The rate of expansion, however, has slowed substantially as a result of growing socioeconomic instability. As a result of governmental pressure, Ethiopia’s film industry has promoted historical and documentary films that have been identified with cultural, religious, and national roots for decades.
Berhanou Abebbé stated in a 2003 essay for Annales d’Ethiopie that a Frenchman brought the first cinematic artifacts to Ethiopia in 1898 and sold them to Italian minister Federico Ciccodicola. Ciccodicola then presented Emperor Menelik II with a gift. According to historians Berhanou and Richard Pankhurst’s books, the Majesty saw a variety of films over the period of decades before the first public film screening in (1909–1910). In 1923, Ethiopians finished and built the first cinema. According to Berhanou, MM. Baicovich owned the first cinema, Pate, from 1909 to 1910. In the early days of cinema, many individuals were dissatisfied with what they saw. In Impressions d’Ethiopie, Berhanou reported French historian Merab as saying, “People certainly didn’t like to enjoy themselves” (1922).