A Rwandan short documentary film titled ‘Lake Women’ was earlier this month selected for the Pan African Film Festival (PAFF). As part of the festival, the film has, alongside other selected films, been screening since March 1 and will end on March 14, after which they will announce the winners. ‘Lake Women’ is about a strong, determined woman who finds treasure on Lake Kivu, begins a quest to form the first Rwandan fisherwomens group ever. Breaking traditional gender roles and norms, her “liberated women” makes history in Rwandan society by turning the patriarchal fishing community upside-down. Deve Shema, a Rwandan filmmaker directed the film. The inspiration, he said, came about after he read a story, in this paper, about a fisherwoman in Rusizi who was defying all odds to fend for his family through fishing. Telling stories about women Throughout his filmmaking career that started in 2015, Shema has so far made four films, eight short films, and another documentary that is currently in post-production. ‘Lake women’ for him, however, is a unique and special film because it tells of the unbeatable resilience and sacrifice of women. “There has also been a lot of improvement from the other films I have done in terms of image, sound and storyline which have come from experience and learning which enabled pay attention to details throughout the entire production,” he added. As he explained, Marianna, the main character in the documentary, goes fishing in the night but one of the fishermen went missing and so the others were scared but she encourages others to go. The men start mocking her and calling her names, but the other women are inspired to join her and soon form a group that operates independently from the men. As a matter of fact, he shared, his next film project titled “Black Widow” is also a fictional story about women and fishing. As the only boy in his family, raised by his sisters who sacrificed a lot after his mother passed at a tender age, he explains, is the reason why he is inclined to document about women. “I have experienced how much sacrifice and love women give, and that is maybe why my themes are usually driven towards them,” he said. About the production said: “We shot the film last year at the end of February in Rusizi, Nkombo Island. The process of the whole project took me about five months and began attending after a workshop organised by Rwanda Media Project. The subject matter was one of the ideas that I submitted was picked by the organisers. Luckily, by the time we got to the lockdown, we were already editing with the help of the sponsors. We however had to edit online since they had moved back abroad and with internet connection problems, the completion of the film was delayed.” Shema was in Form Three when he wrote his first short movie script. A radio show that talked about movies made him fall more in love with movies. He then met with Jerome Mugabo, a scriptwriter who introduced him to cinema and taught him to write scripts. After high school, he attended his first-ever scriptwriting workshop at the Rwanda Christian Film Festival in 2013 and later Maisha Film Lab in 2015, shortly before directing his first film, Running. He believes the challenges for all filmmakers are the same, but Rwandan filmmakers have achieved so much given the age of the industry and the experience. “We still have a lot of skills to catch up with, but it’s amazing how much filmmakers in this country have achieved, beating odds to win awards continentally and globally. Also, our audience is also beginning to understand this kind of art form which has given us a boost. We have investors who are setting up the Rwanda Film Office and we hope to market our films through the office,” he said. Established in 1992, PAFFs goal is to present and showcase the broad spectrum of black creative works, particularly those that reinforce positive images and help destroy negative stereotypes. “Because the festival is happening online, we will not have interactions and networking with participants, which is how we grow our connections as filmmakers. Although we will not meet people, my film will be known through the festival,” Shema said.