Ainslee Alem Robson is an Ethiopian-American director and writer who crafts immersive stories about tensions embedded within the intersectional layers of identity, perception, the digital, and nostalgia. With a background in philosophy she focuses on narratives that deconstruct hierarchy and colonial legacies using emerging technologies in digital art and film.
She is passionate about social justice and harnesses storytelling as a vehicle for meaningful discussion through productive images and narratives of Ethiopia and Africa to change the Western gaze and misrepresented narratives of the continent. Ainslee developed an experimental narrative and visual language for reconstructing "tezeta" (meaning nostalgia in Amharic) in Ferenj: A Graphic Memoir in VR, her directorial debut. This afrosurrealist experience based on her personal experience of growing up as an Ethiopian-American in Cleveland, Ohio and later living in Addis Ababa, premiered at Tribeca Film Festival's Cinema360 via Oculus as well as being officially selected by South by Southwest's VR Cinema and the Cleveland International Film Festival's Perspectives in 2020.
Her work is characterized by speculative and emancipatory storytelling strategies, with a transcultural, feminist and post-colonial lens fueled by her insider/outsider access and artistic perspective. Ainslee's non-fiction writing has been published by Art Africa Magazine and Vogue Italia. Ainslee has worked on the production of several commercials as well as on the production team of the Addis Foto Fest ‘16 with renowned artist Aida Muluneh. Ainslee has also written for Season One of Tibeb Girls, one of the first children’s animation series created in Ethiopia. She holds an M.S. in Fiction and Entertainment from the Southern California Institute of Architecture and a B.A. in Philosophy and French from The College of Wooster.
Currently, Ainslee lives in downtown Los Angeles and is working on other film and media art projects. For collaboration, commercial, or press related inquiries please reach out to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’ve gathered the innovative creators behind our Cinema360 “Kinfolk” program for a special conversation on their work and the meaning of nostalgia, home, and family. Join moderator Loren Hammonds for an intimate discussion with “Ferenj: A Graphic Memoir In VR” director Ainslee Robson, director Diego Kompel of “The Inhabited House,” and Min-Wei Kuo (on behalf of “Home” director Hsu Chih-yen).
Ainslee was the Keynote Speaker at the U12 Seeing South Seminar at the University of Johannesburg's Graduate School of Architecture hosted by renowned architect and educator Sumayya Vally of Counterspace. Other speakers were Maxwell Mutanda, Joris Komen, and Ilze Wolff. She was also invited to speak at Scatter's XR Nights Open House for a discussion of Art in Conversation with Race alongside Lajune McMillian, Zahra Rasool, Idris Brewster and Stephanie Dinkins.