Yemane Demissie

Yemane Demissie

Artist in Residence
The Quantum Leapers
2022-2023 (May-June)
Yemane Demissie


Yemane Demissie is an educator and filmmaker whose work includes two narrative feature films and two feature documentaries. He is a tenured full professor in the Department of Film & TV at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. Currently, Demissie is making The Quantum Leapers, a multimedia project about Ethiopian modernity and independence during the Emperor Haile Selassie era. He has received significant recognition for his work including the John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, the Berlin Prize, and the Locarno Film Festival Production Grant.  Demissie was also a resident fellow at numerous residences including at the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center, MacDowell, Civitella Ranieri, Yaddo, the Bogliasco Foundation, and the Dora Maar House.


Project Summary

The Quantum Leapers is a social history multimedia project about Ethiopia during the Emperor Haile Selassie era, taking place between 1916 and 1975. The 1884 Berlin Conference formalized 19th century European global expansion, accelerating the partition of the African continent. During the infamous scramble that followed Ethiopia alone prevailed. The Quantum Leapers explores how, during this period, this ancient kingdom embraced modernity, safeguarded her sovereignty, and transformed into a republic. Drawing upon a vast repository of interviews of over 500 Ethiopians and scans of thousands of documents and images, the project utilizes primary sources to examine the visions, experiments, and outcomes of Ethiopia’s engagement with modernity and autonomy.