Over the past three days, the Korean Film Festival has attracted over 500 attendees, all eager to immerse themselves in the Korean films that are seldom screened in Rwandan cinemas or video stores. The opening ceremony, held on May 5, at Kigali Century Cinema, was a grand affair, attended by government dignitaries, festival delegates, and embassy representatives. The expansive terrace was packed with caterers and waiters carrying trays of snacks and drinks, while elegantly dressed attendees engaged in lively chatter, their voices echoing throughout the venue and disappearing into the atmosphere. The Korean Film Festival, which is taking place after a three-year hiatus due to the pandemic, has expanded significantly, featuring the most extensive range of Korean films to date. This event is more than just a movie marathon for cinema enthusiasts and filmmakers from Korea, both established and emerging. It is also a platform for networking, breaking down language barriers, and expressing universal emotions and experiences, serving to narrow the gap in understanding between diverse cultures. According to the festival's organizers, “this event is the most significant among others commemorating the 60th anniversary of successful diplomatic relations between Korea and Rwanda.” Korea and Rwanda established their diplomatic relations in 1963, but it wasn’t until 2010 that the two countries started to cooperate more substantially, with the establishment of their respective embassies. Cultural exchanges are also playing a significant role in connecting the people of the two nations, as Rwanda shows more interest in learning Korean language and experiencing Korean culture. The Korean Embassy has been organising events such as the “Korean Song Festival” and “Korean Ambassador’s Cup Taekwondo Championship,” which have seen increased participation and support, reflecting the growing affinity and synergy in the cultural realm between Korea and Rwanda. In his speech at the opening of the festival, HE Chae Jin Weon, Ambassador of the Republic of Korea in Rwanda, expounded on the event while reveling in the success of Korean cinema. “Korean film has grown continuously over the years and more and more audiences from all over the world are being absorbed into Korean movies,” Chae said. He mentioned that there are over 200 film festivals held in Korea, including the renowned Busan International Film Festival. Chae also added that Korea has become an attractive destination for film promotion and noted that the film industry in Rwanda is a promising area. “Watching the development of both countries, I firmly believe that cultural exchanges between the two countries will be more active and strengthen our bilateral relationship.” Film “is not just for entertainment. We explore and get to know a new world through movies, watching their lifestyle, way of expression, nature, history, et cetera.” he explained. During the three-day program, seven feature films including Little Forest, Decision to Leave, How to steal a Dog, Miracle: Letters to the President, Exit, The King’s Case Note and Keys to the Heart will show us various aspects of Korea’s colorful seasons, countryside, family culture and the history of Joseon Dynasty. “I hope that this event serves as an opportunity for the people of our countries to increase the mutual understanding of each other’s culture,” Chae concluded. Guests then sat for the opening film, “Decision to Leave,” a mystery that delves into psychological issues and investigates the disturbing nature of obsession. It follows the story of an insomniac detective, Hae-jun, who becomes obsessed with a woman, Song Seo-rae, while investigating the murder of her abusive husband. As Hae-jun becomes more infatuated with Seo-rae, his job and home life suffer. The film presents a compelling mix of immigrant tensions, a whodunit mystery, an ill-fated romance, a twisting plot, enigmatic characters, and the isolation of modern life. However, some viewers may argue that these elements are not entirely relevant to the story. Despite its captivating qualities, the film concludes leaving its audience with questions about plot points and small details. There is no disputing the film's remarkable quality, though. Park Chan Wook won the Best Director prize for it at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival, and the breathtaking cinematography lives up to that praise. The director utilizes a plethora of captivating techniques to keep the visuals constantly engaging and dynamic. From a frenzied Steadicam foot chase to the clever use of transitions during stakeouts, or the slick incorporation of on-screen text messages, the film is infused with subtle yet constant movement. Chan-wook's artistry elevates the genre film into a captivating work of art, proving how breathtaking visuals can transform any film into a compelling masterpiece. “It was amazing,” said Gagaline Mugisha, a teacher at the Kigali Films Academy. “I was astonished by the quality of Korean cinema, especially since it was my first time watching it. I had expected it to be on the same level as Rwandan cinema, but I was pleasantly surprised. The dynamic camerawork, with techniques such as zooming and crossfades, added to the film’s riveting energy,” he continued. He expressed regret that he didn’t have the chance to ask questions about the transitions, which he was particularly interested in. Mugisha, along with his team of five, attended the Korean Film Festival for the purpose of gaining insight into Korean cinematography and filmmaking. Mugisha, who instantly became a fan of Korean cinema, approached the ambassador to discuss the possibility of a collaboration and partnership between the Korean and Rwandan filmmaking industries. “I proposed that big Korean directors and filmmakers come to the Kigali Film Academy to give masterclasses and training to our students.” According to him, the ambassador welcomed the idea and said that “they would work on it.” The partnership could help the students at the Kigali Film Academy reach a level similar to that of Korean filmmakers. Fortunée Uwimpaye, 23, whose face reflected amusement and delight during an interview, also commented on the movie. Like Mugisha, she was part of the Kigali Films Academy but as a short course student. “The film had a mesmerizing quality to how everything unfolded,” she said. “The level of craftsmanship and artistry just astounds me. The scenes on the mountain are especially dazzling, and I love the dream-like quality that reinforces the sense of enigma even further.” Uwimpaye expressed her surprise at the high-quality of the film, given that it was her first time watching a movie of this kind. She was also taken aback by the large turnout and great ambience at the festival. In light of her positive experience, she declared her intention to attend all future Korean film festivals. When asked about the possibility of Korea cooperating with the Rwandan film industry, Son Hyewon, Third Secretary in charge of public (culture) diplomacy, expressed enthusiasm. She sees the Korean Film Festival as a starting point. “We haven’t had any discussions with the Korean Academy of Film Arts yet, but I’m optimistic that there are numerous possibilities for the two countries to collaborate in the field of film, given the various movie techniques that are available in Korea.” Son also mentioned that the Rwandan embassy in Seoul is already promoting Rwandan coffee and handicrafts to nurture their culture in Korea. She believes that movies can play a significant role in cultural exchanges and hopes to establish a partnership that will allow Rwandan films to be showcased in Korea, and vice versa. “The ultimate goal is for people from both countries to gain a better understanding of each other’s culture,” she concluded. In celebration of the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Rwanda and Korea, the Embassy of the Republic of Korea in Rwanda has planned several exciting events. Apart from the concluding Korean Film Festival, which was the second event in the lineup, there is a logo design contest in partnership with the Embassy of the Republic of Rwanda in Seoul, a seminar on development cooperation scheduled for May, and a thrilling Taekwondo demonstration by the renowned Kukkiwon team in June. The winning logo from the design contest will serve as the official symbol for all events hosted by the embassies, while the development cooperation seminar will provide an opportunity to reflect on past accomplishments and share perspectives for future progress. Meanwhile, the upcoming Taekwondo performance promises to showcase not only the dynamic movements of the martial art but also its indomitable spirit. These events highlight the strong bond and partnership between Rwanda and the Republic of Korea.