Today marks 25 years since start of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, and 20 years since filmmaker Eric Kabera produced his first film about the Genocide – 100 Days.
Produced in collaboration with Nick Hughes, a British filmmaker, 100 Days quickly made history as the first feature film to be made about the Genocide, and also the first film shot in the country after 1994.
In a way, Kabera’s latest film, Rwanda: A Quarter Century is a recap of the country’s journey of recovery and growth, 25 years on, and the filmmaker’s own journey of telling the story through film.
Like the title, Rwanda: A Quarter Century suggests, the 25 minute documentary is a piece of reflection on the theme of remembrance, as the country officially embarks on the 25th Commemoration anniversary of the Genocide.
It is a tribute to the efforts and forms of remembrance used in keeping the memory of the Genocide alive. Through the voice of peace from President Paul Kagame, to personal testimonies, and reflections from acclaimed artists, personalities and activists, the film presents a vivid portrait of the unimaginable pain that claimed over a million lives.
The film is set for release today Sunday April 7, to coincide with the kickoff of national commemoration activities. There will be a special screening at the Kwetu Film Institute in Kigali on Tuesday April 9.
The mini documentary is in part a review of Kabera’s previous works, including 100 Days, Keepers Of Memory, Through My Eyes, and Iseta. It is further interwoven with some of the theatrical performances of top theater and drama groups in the country, most notably Mashirika Performing Arts and Media Company, and Ishyo Arts.
It includes performances of prominent actors and poets such as MalaikaUwamahoro, Amata Giramata and others.
“The presentation is a portrait of art, memory and commitment, drawn from the Rwandan leadership through the voice of President Paul Kagame. We hear the wisdom on how to live and love again as we remember and commit to the peaceful coexistence that has been paved by his inspired leadership, despite insurmountable challenges that there appeared to be,” explained Eric Kabera, adding:
“Some of the faces and voices reflected in the film are young men and women who were born after the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. Their reflection, memory and commitment for a better future gives the film Rwanda: A Quarter Century a whole new dimension. As the film came to the end of its edit, the production team was greatly moved by its general impact and overall message. We hope this 25 minute piece, our humble contribution to Kwibuka 25, will strike a right chord in keeping memory alive.”
Kabera revealed that since 100 Days debuted twenty years ago, “voices of the departed speak and inspire me to continue producing films”:
Sometimes I feel that over the last 20 years, voices of the departed speak and inspire me to continue producing films.
“From making 100 Days, which today marks its 20th anniversary, to Keepers Of Memory, Through My Eyes and Iseta, these are the same voices that are transposed into this new documentary in a subtle and poetic way, and communicated by great artists. The film brings their voices to life, blending with images that were captured over 20 years in most of our films.”
The film features young film students from the Kwetu Film Institute, Kabera’s brainchild, and most of who were born after 1994.
On April 4th, the students gathered inside the Kwetu Film Institute in house studio for a reflection and discussion session about the 25 year commemoration of the genocide, and part of this discussion is featured in the film.
“I acknowledge the help of our students at the institute who are seen and heard in the film. I also want to thank our editor Jean Baptiste Habineza for this amazing work and dedication. He managed to bring this vision to life in such a short period of time,” Kabera added.