Uwayezu's film industry dream takes shape


94Hi Film School students in a practical session at the film school. The school offers opportunities for aspiring filmmakers. Courtesy.

Olivier Uwayezu is a survivor of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi whose personal experience and struggles inspired him to pursue a career in film making. After studying film production in USA, he returned to Rwanda to empower talented and vulnerable youth through the film industry. Indeed his dream for the industry seems to be taking shape.

Six months after launching, 94Hi Film School, he has announced a new programme to award scholarships to the best and talented students to pursue a career that will provide them with lucrative opportunities in film. Students from all over the country are eligible to apply for these scholarships.

According to Uwayezu, the objective is to support the most vulnerable students.

“There are many people out there who are willing to pursue a career in film-making, but can’t easily afford the fees charged. The idea to bring the scholarship was to extend the opportunities to those who are most vulnerable, but smart and passionate about taking up vocational training, particularly in the film industry,” he explained.

Beyond this, Uwayezu also revealed that the inspiration to come up with such a programme was sparked by his personal experience. Uwayezu is one of the survivors of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi and struggled throughout his studies.

His film school, 94HI Film School (1994 History Film School), carries a broader meaning of what he wanted to do- to record what Rwanda experienced during the genocide.

It’s now eight years since he joined the film industry, but the opportunity to fully join the industry was when he was awarded a scholarship to study film production in the United States of America (USA).

“I pursued a career in film when I was given the opportunity to go to George Town University in the United States. Most of us finished our studies through scholarships. We can’t ignore others who need such opportunities to make their dreams come true. This is a personal inspiration,” he noted.

Application open

The scholarships are available and the application process is already open and about 25 applications have so far been received. The criteria to pick the lucky beneficiaries will include essay writing tests, and level of motivation to pursue a career in film, among others.

“Although we may not award as many scholarships as we wish, there will be a list of outstanding students in our database, and as we continue mobilising resources from different sponsors, they will be among the first to be considered while expanding the support,” he noted.

The application process closes on January 15.

Currently, the school is operating under the already existing 94HI Studio, and the overall vision is to set up 94HI Radio, 94HI TV, 94HI Music, among others.

Uwayezu noted that the aim is to help people pursue their dream careers but also use these platforms to promote the growing film industry. He’s hopeful the studio may be up before the end of the next year.

“Production and broadcasting together with distribution all serve the same vision. These platforms are therefore important in the growth of the film industry,” he said while elaborating while why television and radio are more critical in the film business.

Part of the interior view of 94Hi studio in Kigali. Courtesy.