The story of East African marriages and movies

A Rwandan filmmaker Richard Mugwaneza is set to produce a movie called ‘Seed of memories’ which the youthful producer and actor says ‘resonates’ with the life challenges that married couples in the region face. Mugwaneza’s film will be sponsored by renown Tanzanian based satellite television Azaam TV.
A scene in the movie.
A scene in the movie.

A Rwandan filmmaker Richard Mugwaneza is set to produce a movie called ‘Seed of memories’ which the youthful producer and actor says ‘resonates’ with the life challenges that married couples in the region face. Mugwaneza’s film will be sponsored by renown Tanzanian based satellite television Azaam TV.

“I needed to tell a story about marriage, maybe it’s because I am newly married and I can now tell what it’s like to be married. I wanted to talk about women a lot and introduce them into the east African community and produce a movie that is not bongo.”

The project however came with a low cut budget. The result? Six days and sleepless nights working tirelessly not just to perfect the film but also improvise with the limited time, pay and space. The film shot in one location, Mulindi One love guest house

With Rwandans taking the majority roles in the film, Shiraz Ngassa, a Tanzanian actor was also brought in to star in the film. His role ‘Stephen’ is one of a Tanzanian businessman who fails to accomplish his mission in a foreign country and instead ends up falling in love with another man’s wife.

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Ngassa with actress Yvette, the leading role in one of the scenes.

“Wife battering and domestic violence are issues that affect not just my home country but Africans as well. A good number of men in East Africa have no clue how wives should be treated. This is what motivated me to take part in this film. I hope that my fellow men will learn something from this,” he says.

The film is a lesson of the misconceptions about happiness and divorce that African families carry along.

Willy Ndahiro, a renowned Rwandan actor and film director uses the chance in the movie to bring out his talent. It is the first time he is having a negative antagonist character role in a movie.

“My character role in the movie best suits me, as a man battering his wife. It motivates me to send a message to the men, especially now that we are an integrated East African region,” he says.

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Ndahiro during one of the scenes.

The Rwandan actors from different backgrounds worked so well in giving it a twist of the numerous kinds of the Swahili language. The feature film is dominated by the East African Swahili language, Burundian, Tanzanian, Congolese and Rwandan Swahili.

“The initial idea was to give Rwandans the opportunity to speak their language but later we realized that we need to favor the bigger audience that speaks Swahili thus looking for Rwandan actors who speak the language. Our audience is a Swahili speaking community and having the opportunity to be funded by the Tanzanian Television and we knew that our audience is Swahili speaking,” Mugwaneza says.

Even though domestic violence is a topic common in African short movies, Mugwaneza is believes that the 75 hour long film can narrow the gap between feature films and short films.

For the sponsors, it is about getting the movie on a DVD and selling it to the audience, but for him it is about the big screen, festivals and cinemas.

“The artistic merit of the short films are not really dug deep but we dug deep into the character of the movies to bring a bigger artistic view mostly targeting film festivals.”

“What we are doing is not bongo or short film, it is a cinema movie but the story is almost identical to what we have in real life. We are bringing similar stories but those that can be filmed in cinemas,” he says.

editorial@newtimes.co.rw

 

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