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The East African : July 21st 2014
The EastAfrican MAGAZINE JULY 19-25,2014 film Rwanda’s film indust≥y on the ≥ise III ter and Walking to School. The last segment, “Reflection on Young People on the Move,” explores problems facing young people from around the world — Africa in particular. This one features short films that show how young people struggle against all odds to make it. Dozens of films about Rwan- da’s 100 darkest days and the genocide became the defining element of the country’s nascent film industry. But as the industry grew, Rwandan filmmakers realised the need to make films that portrayed Rwanda as it is today — from conflict, war and suffering. The Rwandan films that have nothing to do with the genocide Thierry Dushimirimana’s A Love Letter To My Country, which is a love story, and Pierre Lalumiere Kayitana’s Behind These Walls, which addresses issues of education in Rwanda. The film was featured at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York a few years ago and received international acclaim. Mooted the idea In 2010, riding on the eupho- ria that surrounded the World Cup in South Africa, Kabera mooted the idea of a film that would go beyond his home country and mirror the entire African continent as it is today. The resulting effort was Af- The count≥y made debut with 100 days, which featu≥es the ho≥≥o≥ of genocide of 1994, w≥ites GILBERT MWIJUKE A fter the 1994 genocide, Rwandans began to tell their stories through film. The first man to do so was Eric Kabera who, in 2001, teamed up with British filmmaker Nick Hughes to make 100 Days, the first film to feature the horrors of the genocide. 100 Days not only had a suc- cessful premiere in Kampala, but also went on to win the Best Cinematography Award in India. The film, aptly titled, brought to light what happened during the genocide when about one million Rwandans were killed in a span of 100 days, subsequently inspiring the making of several other films about the genocide by both local and international filmmakers. Most notable were the epic Sometimes in April; the compelling documentary; Shake Hands with the Devil; and the controversial Hotel Rwanda, which was based on what happened inside the Hotel des Mille Collines during the genocide. For Kabera, the success of 100 Days became the inspiration for another project — the setting up of the Rwanda Cinema Centre (RCC) to train upcoming filmmakers. The centre, which opened in 2003, trained several scriptwriters, producers, directors and editors, but still there was no film culture to speak of in Rwanda. In 2005, Kabera started Rwanda’s first film festival, which he nicknamed Hillywood. “Hillywood stands for cin- ema in the hills of Rwanda,” he said. The overriding aim of Hillywood, also known as the Rwanda Film Festival, was to serve as a platform for the locally produced films and help local filmmakers to interact with international filmakers. During the annual festival, the festival The overriding aim of Hillywood, also known as the Rwanda Film Festival, was to serve as a platform for locally produced films and help local filmmakers to interact with international filmakers. ‘‘ Hillywood stands for cinema in the hills of Rwanda.” which started last week its 10th edition, local and international films are shown on big screens across the country. At the first festival, most of the films that were shown were foreign. This year’s festival has been segmented into three sections: “A Retrospective on Rwanda,” which is an expansion of the festival’s regular, “Genocide Me- morial Extension Programme,” brings together filmmakers, journalists and community leaders to discuss genociderelated issues. The programme features films such as The Last Dog in Rwanda, a Swedish short film from 2006 based on photojournalist Jens Assur’s experiences while covering the 1994 genocide; and Football Rwanda; Fields of Memories, which is about a former goalkeeper of the Rwandan national football team Eugène Murangwa’s return to his country 20 years after the genocide. “A Retrospective on Rwanda” also features Shake Hands with the Devil, an adaptation of Lieutenant-General Romeo Dallaire’s autobiography of the same title is about the Canadian general’s experiences in Rwanda during the genocide. Gen. Dallaire was force commander of the United Nations peacekeeping force for Rwanda between 1993 and 1994. The other theme, “Reflection on World Cultures” ever-changing cultures of people from different parts of the world. The festival is taking Rwandans on a world trip through cinema, the organisers said. This segment aims at introducing Rwandans to Chinese culture, and members of the public are being treated to a collection of contemporary Chinese films, including Chinese Zodiac, So Young, Lost in Thailand, The Grandmas- Above; a production crew shoots a movie. Below; Rwanda Cinema Centre founder Eric Kabera fields questions from journalists after screening of Intore. Picture: Cyril Ndegeya rica United, a fairytale of five children from the Great Lakes Region who against the advice of adults, walked thousands of kilometres from Kigali to South Africa just to realise their dream of attending the World Cup. Emmanuel Jal, the former Sudanese child soldier who is now an internationally renowned rapper, plays the villain in the film which premiered in Canada and the UK. Most of Kabera’s films con- tinue to focus on the 1994 genocide, which he said claimed the lives of 32 members of his family. “The genocide is a subject that is going to be talked about for many years to come. It’s a subject we cannot avoid,” he said. “When we started the Hilly- wood Festival, we had just a handful of locally made films and there was no single cinema in Rwanda. But as we speak, there are countless locally produced films, and the country boasts state-of-the-art cinema halls like the Century Cinema,” he said. It ia against this backdrop that Kabera and his team chose “Reflection” as the theme for this year’s festival. He said: “It’s now time to look back and see where we have come from, and where we are right now. It’s a moment of reflection.” To look beyond the 10 years of Hillywood, Intore, Kabera’s latest film, which explains Rwanda’s journey from 1994 to date, was shown on the opening night of the festival at the Century Cinema.
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