Dagmawi Yimer gives migrants a voice with his cinematic works—well aware that the documentation of their stories is often neglected and forgotten. Following on from his own biography—the director, who was born in Addis Ababa, arrived in Lampedusa in the summer of 2006 and is involved, among other things, in the ‘Archivio delle memorie migranti’—he focuses on the situation of migrants or racism in Italy. His short and longer film works stand in the aesthetic tradition of Italian political documentary films and focus on the oral and visual memory of migration.
2007 and in 2008 he co directed his first films ‘’The desert and the sea’’ and '' Like a man on earth’'
''CARA Italia’' 2009.
In 2010, Dagmawi Yimer returns to Lampedusa to capture the atmosphere on the island for his work Nothing but the sea. Due to its proximity to North Africa, Lampedusa is the first destination for many migrants who flee across the Mediterranean, and the island is accordingly present in international media coverage, but also in the xenophobic propaganda of Italian politicians. In Nothing but the sea, Dagmawi Yimer, who in 2006 only saw the island through the windows of the reception camp, confronts his own migrant history—but also that of others who fled—with the realities of the islanders. It becomes clear that the experience of migration, the departure and the hopes associated with it, as well as the sea, have always shaped the history of the island and its inhabitants. The shooting of Nothing but the sea in 2010 was marked by the agreement negotiated between the former Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi and the Libyan dictator Muammar al-Ghadhafi, which made it impossible for many refugees to cross the Mediterranean Sea. ASMAT – Names in memory of all victims of the sea on the other hand, was realised in 2015 and addresses the experience of the terrible tragedies that took place in the Mediterranean from 2011 onwards, in particular the boat accident of 3 October 2016, in which 366 migrants lost their lives. The film mentions the names of all the people who died in the accident and reminds us that behind these names lie stories, lives and meanings. In Waiting, his latest film, Dagmawi Yimer deals with the state of waiting that characterises the lives of so many refugees. It becomes clear that keeping people waiting is always a way to practice domination and power. The film starts from a conversation between the filmmaker and an anthropologist and explores the theme of waiting through the testimonies of three migrant men in Europe. The testimonies about waiting appear in different forms: letter writing, painting and poetic research. With waiting, Dagmawi Yimer’s intent is to integrate academic knowledge into migrant stories and make them accessible to a broader audience by a combination of words and images.