The 600: Filmmakers bring the ‘Inkotanyi’ rescue mission to the big screen

About a year ago producer Richard Hall travelled to Rwanda for the very first time. At the end of his trip, he and Annette Uwizeye; also a filmmaker, decided to visit the Campaign against Genocide Museum.The Museum is located within the parliamentary buildings.

It was the first time both were visiting and what both didn’t know at the time was that this was the beginning of a journey that would inspire them to produce a film that would tell the most compelling story of the struggle to liberate Rwandans from the Genocide against the Tutsi.

Poster cover of ‘The 600’, a dramatised documentary about a battalion that was trapped behind enemy lines when the genocide began. / Courtesy photo

The film was made by Great Blue Productions owned by Hall as the Executive Producer and A-WIZE MEDIA run by Uwizeye.

About ‘The 600’ film

‘The 600’ tells the inspirational story that honors the sacrifice and courage of the Rwanda Patriotic Army (RPA) soldiers through the eyes of  the 3rd Battalion better known as The 600. This battalion arrived in Kigali as part of the Arusha Peace Accords to protect RPF politicians that were to form part of the transitional government.

More specifically, it tells the story of the events in Kigali during the 100 days of the Genocide focusing on several specific stories that were documented and verified by both the soldiers and the people that they rescued.

t the media event to give journalists a look at a five minute trailer of what to expect in the film, Uwizeye told Sunday Times that even before the premiere, there had been a lot of support from all corners; starting from when the idea was put on paper.

“In my opinion, I have always felt that we did not choose this film. It chose us. It was a story worth telling and the kind of support it is getting has added so much value. We did not have a budget for the launch but we have had people rallying to support us to get the word out to as many people as possible,” she said.

What is the back story?

In a statement, Hall says that he was inspired by his Rwandan family which includes both survivors and rescuers and enlisted a film company, A WIZE MEDIA, which is run by Uwizeye to staff every position for the production apart from the directing position. 

“This strategy was helpful in getting many survivors and rescuers to come forward and courageously share their experiences, no matter how painful they were,” he said.

Annette Uwizeye, co-producer of the documentary. / Courtesy photo

Funding

The funding of the film was privately raised by the Executive Producer Richard Hall however he didn’t divulge how much money was used for the shooting.

On-set Counselling

Due to the nature of the project, Uwizeye says that during the preliminary research, it was observed that there would be need for a counsellor to join the film crew.

She points out that the traumatic nature of the history they were about to uncover together with their interviewees required guidence so that the experience of returning back to the past does not take a toll.

“We knew that we were getting into something that we couldn’t handle alone. We were going to ask our interviewees to unpack a horrific history and so we had a professional counsellor on set to support interviewees as well as ourselves, the crew, to deal with the heavy subject."

Interview subjects
In total, 90 strong leads were gathered during the research and pre-interview phase, and to interlink the stories for the film and have a more specific angle then just about 40 interviews appeared in the final film. 50 percent of the interviews are civilian rescuees and the other 50 percent are RPA veterans.

Length of the movie
117 minutes

Length of time it took to make
18 months

The local and international team
In total, 40 Rwandans worked on the film including Guez Show an animation company based in Kigali. Another team handled the post-production/editing in the United States.

Distribution
Hall is currently working on international distribution.

The music
The music is very cinematic. Hall enlisted the services of one of Hollywood’s best to do the sound design.

Highlight in making this film?
Uwizeye says that the support especially the Rwanda Defense Forces was instrumental in shooting the film. “The Rwandan military is already inspiring because of their history but also because they evolve. For us to be able to get to different personalities, it was because of their support,” she says.

Additional clips
Archival video clips and photographs came from various sources, including the Campaign Against Genocide Museum, the Ministry of Defense, and private collections.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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