Over the weekend all roads led to Gatenga, in Kigali, where Karani Ngufu, a new Rwandan film had its grand premiere. Exactly one hour before the main feature, the rain threatened to disrupt the long-awaited open air event.
Kabobo Kaboss, a local comedian, had a brief entertainment session as more people continued to stream to the venue. At around half past 6pm, the film’s opening credits could be seen on the inflatable screen. This was a sigh of relief for the audience, who feared it would rain before the kickoff.
The 90-minutes film follows the struggles of three female domestic workers in a small neighbourhood. It was produced by Rwanda Media Project, and entirely shot in Kigali city. According to Fiston Mudacumura, who is one of the film crew, it was easy to pick Gatenga as the favorite venue for the premiere, “It was in this location where most of the scenes in the film were shot. We decided to bring this movie to the community that became part of us when we were filming here,” he explained.
One of the scenes in Karani Ngufu.
As the screening progressed, there were a bunch of light moments that drew wild applause from the audience. Most notably is a scene where one domestic worker joins hands with her female employer to kick the husband out of the house for being drunk and immoral.
The movie highlights the plight of domestic workers in a humorous way and it also gives them a voice in the society. Watching the film, you encounter these girls working very hard to achieve their individual goals in life against all odds. It’s probably a scene where one of the male employer is sexually assaulting his domestic worker that drew a lengthy murmuring from the audience.
According to Peris Mbawazi, who was part of the audience, the film is a great piece of art. “It’s quite impressive how such a delicate subject was highlighted in a well scripted story. I loved cinematography, acting, editing and sound. I won’t mind watching the film again. I hope it will be screened in learning institutions across Rwanda,” she said.
Movie lovers watch Karani Ngufu in Gatenga, Kicukiro. Photos by Joseph Njata
It seems the pioneers of the burgeoning Rwandan film industry have witnessed a tremendous improvement in the art of storytelling.
Kennedy Mazimpaka, a renowned actor, who was part of the production team, is aware of this development. “Some few years ago the common practice was something akin to copy and paste. This came inform of sleazy and plagiaristic filmmakers by getting stories from block buster movies and presenting them in local lingua in a bid to give them local relevance. The problem here being, it was as if Rwanda did not have stories to tell cinematically,” he explains.
Mazimpaka predicts that things can only look up for Rwandan film industry. He cites recent efforts by the government to support local filmmakers through the new Rwanda Film Office. He sees a near future where entrepreneurs will take advantage of this Government-created conducive environment to produce high quality films.
Shema Deve, a young filmmaker, who was part of Karani Ngufu creative team, said a lot has changed in the local film industry. “Twenty-five years ago, the central theme of the films produced in Rwanda didn’t go beyond the Genocide. Today, things have changed and the films we have shed light on our present life,” he aptly observes.
The team will screen the film in the four provinces of Rwanda. They are also scheduled to take the documentary to Mahama Refugee Camp in Kirehe District October 24.