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Kigali — The 5th Rwanda Film Festival was successfully concluded on June 28, after 16 days of screening.
This year’s festival was under the theme: “Red Carpet”.
International film star and human rights activist Danny Glover was the guest of honour at the ceremony that attracted hundreds of film lovers, both local and foreign.
The event was also attended by dignitaries, including the US Ambassador to Rwanda Stuart Symington, Belgium Ambassador to Rwanda and the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Sports and Culture Jean Pierre Karabaranga.
The venue was the Prime Holding Gardens, where hundreds gathered to catch-up with the last film of the festival, but most importantly to rub shoulders with Glover.
The air was charged with excitement and the road to Prime Holdings was busy all evening, as multitudes flocked to attend to the closing night of the festival.
The CEO of Rwanda Cinema Centre (RCC), Eric Kabera said that what made the festival a success was young Rwandan filmmakers using their talents to effectively tell their stories.
When everyone wasseated attentively, Kabera stepped forward and announced the presence of Hollywood’s famous actor, describing him as a friend to Rwanda Cinema Centre and Rwanda.
Glover who is deeply committed to numerous community projects in the United States, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, said that, “as artists, we don’t act within a singular framework.
We act within a number of dynamic historical and political manifestations that allow us to create the work that is necessary to create”.
“When Kabera approached me, I was busy working on my new film. But I later rang him to confirm whether he really wanted me to attend. He said yes we want you to attend,” Glover said.
He praised RCC, saying that it’s a necessary and primary step toward providing support for the present battle of ideas, the battle -he said- for us to acknowledge that our own imagination is in the forefront of what we do.
Well known for his many roles in Academy Award-winning movies, Glover told the audience that he was asked to come to Rwanda shortly after the 1994 Rwanda Genocide against the Tutsi, but failed to make it because of his busy scheduled.
“But I’m glad I made it. I’m now asking you a moment of silence to remember a million of people who died in the tragedy,” said Glover.
Kabera thanked Glover for his praise and support of RCC and for being a big support tothe growing film industry.
Ambassador Stuart Symington also congratulated Rwanda Cinema Centre and thanked Glover for honouring the invitation.
Karabaranga, who represented the Minister of Culture and Sports Joseph Habineza, pledged the Ministry’s support to the development of RCC.
RFF Review by Piotr Cieplak
Local film directors agree that the culture of filmmaking in modern Rwanda took off after the genocide. Foreign TV crews, filmmakers and journalists started arriving in unprecedented numbers. And even though on many occasions they got their stories wrong and ended up with little more than a collection of stereotypes, they left two important things behind: a nucleus of people trained and interested in film production, and an awareness that if Rwandans did not tell their stories, then someone else would…
The rural screenings and the Kigali part of Hillywood differed so much that it almost felt like two separate festivals. The three main venues in the capital were upmarket cafes and restaurants with the audience dominated by expatriates, NGO workers and a few middle-class Rwandans. The fourth spot, Kigali’s lively working-class district of Nyamirambo, had a different feel. But the attendance was not impressive.
This is one of the biggest problems the Rwandan film industry faces: the absence of a paying audience. The reasons for this are manifold, ranging from lack of disposable (and on many occasions, any) income and the fact that paid-for entertainment is still a relatively new concept. Kabera says: “in Kigali, we are still building a cinema culture. It’s a part of a long-term plan.”
Cieplak notes that Chaplin was a hit at this year’s touring festival and describes what sounds like the Rwandan version of the Benshi narrating/translating the intertitles to Kinyarwanda:
The programmers included extracts from Modern Times and The Kid, and both had the audience rolling on the floor in spasms of laughter. The enjoyment was aided by a radio DJ Cyril Ndegeya, who narrated the images and translated the intertitles in Kinyarwanda, creating a peculiar and hilarious freestyle polemic with the silent images. There was, indeed, something magical about watching Chaplin wave his little walking-stick on a huge inflatable screen on a moonlit Rwandan hill.
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