The week-long Mashariki African Film Festival comes to an end today evening, March 31, at the Kigali Conference and Exhibition Village (Camp Kigali).
This year’s edition towered over the previous two in terms of attendance and venue. Previous editions have been held at the Kigali Serena Hotel and the Grand Pension Plaza (RSSB) respectively.
The opening ceremony on Saturday, March 25, was a spectacle to behold, with close to 2000 film enthusiasts filling out the huge marquee set in the middle of the exhibition village at Camp Kigali.
The evening kicked off with a cocktail party that run from 5pm till about 6:30 pm. At 7pm, it was time to introduce guests. The guest list included the Belgian ambassador to Rwanda, as well as envoys from the Swiss, Swedish, German and French embassies, among others.
Where previous editions had been characterised by poor time-keeping, everything seemed to run on schedule this year.
In attendance were about 100 international guests, according to Tresor Senga, the festival president. Senga is also country representative of the East African Film Network (EAFN).
“On the opening day we screened only one film and it was a very nice film which everybody appreciated. In Rwanda it’s hard to screen a movie and get people to watch it from start to finish but this time everybody did,” he added.
The film in question is La Piroque (Small boat), the 2012 drama film by acclaimed Senegalese film director Moussa Toure who was in attendance.
Films screened fall under two categories; competition, and panorama and the theme for this year’s festival is ‘My Story, My Passion, My Journey.’
Six short films were screened under the national competition, which was open exclusively to Rwandan filmmakers.
During the week there were different venues, Impact Hub, Iriba Centre and the Goethe Institut at which the 43 films that had been selected in the festival were screened to smaller audiences.
There were also different workshops and trainings, including a film directing master class by Moussa Toure at the Rwanda Arts Initiative in Kimihurura. This was complimented with a master class on journalism at the Goethe Institut, and a workshop on pre-production by two other international filmmakers.
Toure expressed interest in returning to Rwanda to do a feature film and asked why, explained that the country has stunning locations.
The closing ceremony will be a red carpet affair, with awards of prizes for best films. Short trailers of all the films that were selected for the festival will also be screened.
Tey, the 2012 French-Senegalese film directed by Alain Gomis will be screened as the festival’s highlight.