The year 2012 has been, ‘annus horribilis’, for the Eritrean artists. Although death is a natural phenomenon and an inevitable aspect of life; nevertheless, it is depriving us of our most talented, experienced and brightest artists one after another.
Just this month we lost two prominent personalities in the Eritrean art community. One is Isaias Tsegay whom over the years we have come to equate as the father of Eritrean cinematography, and the other is one the most influential literary figure in Eritrea Mr. Beyene Haile see here . It was also last year in September that we lost the Giant of Eritrean Literature Memhir Musa Aron see here
Isaias Tsegay is well known for his profound poetry such as Lemin Leminey and others, but he rose into public prominence with his epic films such as “Milenu”, Timali, Guya, and Fikrin Kuinatin. This is because film acknowledges no border or boundary. It eludes linguistic and cultural confines. It merges fact and fancy. The makers of film beget small worlds of frozen thoughts and universal dreams that mirror life as lived and as imagined everywhere.
Since independence, Eritreans have influenced film production in Africa pre-eminently. Isaias Tsegay is such an Eritrean who has invested much of his life in passionate devotion to the magic art and mystery of this forever craft.
He has applied his particular Eritrean vision to a remarkable range of important issues and ideals to bring forth sensuous films of substance and content – films that are paradoxically both comfortable unnerving as we are invited to cross the portals of his imagination.
Perfection is not an exaggeration when applied to his cinematographic production where he cared deeply to the script and minute details of film production. He applied innovative visual flair and unconventional staging when he was filming “Milenu” for instance; he has drawn finely crafted works from ordinary stories to provide intimate portraits of private souls such as Fikrin Kuinatin. His films are singular in reach and style and reflect an artist who seeks to learn through each act of cinematic creation.
I hope through his remarkable cinematographic production, new generations of Eritrean artists of the magic lantern will sharpen their skills in the building of ingenious and marketable castles in the air.
Meanwhile, let us celebrate the life of Isaias Tsegay, talented and faithful Eritrean, accomplished and skillful teller of tales and proficient master of the literature of the eye.