Intore, a Rwandan documentary film was among hundreds of films screened at this year’s edition of the Yagamata International Documentary Film Festival in Japan.
The weeklong festival opened on October 5 in the Japanese city of Yagamata. It closes on Wednesday October 12. Hundreds of films from across the globe were screened at the biennial festival, which was first staged in 1989.
Eric Kabera, a filmmaker and founder of the Kwetu Film Institute in Kigali, represented Rwanda at the festival. He presented Intore, his award-winning 2014 documentary film that documents how Rwanda used music, dance, and a resilient new generation to rebuild from its tragic past.
“I found an incredibly responsive audience who loved what they saw in the film, the recovery of Rwanda reflected through our culture, dance, and the new face of the nation. They saw and appreciated the subtle metaphors shared in the film,” said Kabera.
“People were positively surprised to see the New Rwanda through the eyes of our culture, music, songs and also a ray of hope through the messages of peace and reconciliation.”
More than 100 films were screened at the festival, with special programmes dedicated to Africa, Asian, and European cinema.
Intore was screened under the programme, Africa Views.
“This is one of the most respected film festivals in Japan and Asia. We had a talk and discussion about the new breed of African story tellers where Hajooj Kaku, the director of Beats of the Antonov had his film discussed alongside mine,” Kabera added.
Released in September 2014, Beats of the Antonov captures the lives of Sudanese farmers, herders and rebels in the country’s Blue Nile region as they tend their fields in the face of a government aerial bombing campaign.
“It is very surprising how curious the Japanese audiences are in discovering other cultures. Most of our films had a full house, with questions, appreciation and also deep understanding of these issues.
That is one of the reasons why we decided to set up the Rwanda film festival back home so as to educate and empower our people as well.”
Kabera underscored the importance of the film medium as a powerful force in understanding issues, educating the youth, and enlightening the community in general.
“Our middle class and political elite need this medium as seen here in Japan,” he concluded.
“We want to encourage more people to invest in the medium so that Africa can record and share its own story and history as we continue to learn from the rest of the world. The film and media arts school at Kwetu Film Institute is indeed the beginning but it needs to be more than one person investing, it should be a collective effort as seen in other parts of the world.”