Europe-Africa linkages as 2018 European Union Film Festival kicks off in Kigali

R-L: EU Ambassador to Rwanda Nicola Bellomo with RALC Executive Secretary James Vuningoma and Etienne De Souza, Chargé d’affaire of the French Embassy in Rwanda. Photos by Moses Opobo

The Mercy Of The Jungle, the opening film at this year’s European Union Film Festival (EUFF), is the embodiment of this year’s theme, Europe-Africa Linkages.

The Rwandan chapter of this year’s festival kicked off on Tuesday, November 20, with an opening gala at the Century Cinema in Kigali. The festival will continue in Kigali until Sunday, November 25, before proceeding to Rubavu District in Western Province (at Kivu Serena Hotel), on to Muhanga District in Southern Province (Splendid Hotel) between November 30 and December 2.

It is the third year that Rwanda is hosting the festival, which internationally is in its 28th year running.

The EUFF is an annual event that showcases a selection of European films to local audiences in different parts of the world, offering a glimpse into the continent’s diversity and creativity.

Films selected explore a variety of subjects, including immigration, love, identity, inclusion, gender, disability, religion, to politics.

The platform also offers a chance to young filmmakers in the different countries of screening to showcase their talent.

It is against this background that The Mercy Of The Jungle, a feature film by Rwandan filmmaker Joel Karekezi was selected to be screened at the opening gala.

The same screening also doubled as the film’s Rwandan premiere.

The Mercy Of The Jungle is a road movie that deals with the subject of wars in Congo, seen through the eyes of two lost soldiers in the jungle by showcasing their struggle, weakness, and hope. The 91-minute film is a co-production between Rwanda, France, and Belgium. The film was released on September 8.

Away from Joel Karekezi’s masterpiece, 14 films from 11 EU member states will be screened. Of these, 12 are co-productions between European and African film makers, and present stories that cut across both continents, or deal with topics relevant to Africans and Europeans alike.

Joel Karekezi Director of Mercy of the Jungle. 

Europe-Africa linkages:

In her remarks at the opening gala, local independent filmmaker Dusabejambo Clementine, the curator for this year’s festival drew special attention to the opening film, The Mercy Of The Jungle:

“The production of this film encompasses the spirit of the festival –a productive encounter between Africa and Europe that creates doors and magic. I hope the younger generation of Rwandan filmmakers will get inspired by this new director who is setting new standards for the film sector in Rwanda.”

In his remarks, Ambassador Nicola Bellomo, the Head of the EU delegation to Rwanda revealed that the festival is part of the European Autumn of Culture series of events in Rwanda:

“Like the rest of our cultural activities during the European Autumn of Culture, the EUFF focuses this year on highlighting existing links between Africa and Europe, and hopefully creating new ones.”

Ambassador Bellomo further noted that the festival has been growing steadily in size, bringing on board more EU member states, and initiating new collaborations.

This year, the festival teamed up with the Rwanda Development Board to organise the International Audiovisual Conference, which is taking place alongside the festival.

As part of the audiovisual conference, one Rwandan film, Impfura, by local filmmaker Samuel Ishimwe was screened on Wednesday November 21, at the Kigali Convention Center.

The screenings were followed by an interactive session with Samuel Ishimwe and Oumar Sall, producer and founder of CINEKAP, a Senegalese based production house.

According to organisers, this year’s edition hopes to present the world “in its complexity and singularity, its ups and downs, our world in its effort to rebuild itself –to better strengthen the hyphen between Africa and Europe through shared human experiences”.

“This year’s theme illustrates the highs, lows, crossroads, hopes and expectations that link us when it comes to defining who we are, our relationship to each other, and what we share as human beings,” read a press statement from the office of the EU delegation to Rwanda.