Janvier Mutiganda reveals why film critiquing is still a challenge in Rwanda

After graduating with a degree in Agriculture from University of Rwanda’s College Arts and Social Sciences in 2013, Janvier Mutiganda switched to journalism and filmmaking in order to pursue his childhood dream of making films.
Janvier Mutiganda. (Courtesy)
Janvier Mutiganda. (Courtesy)

After graduating with a degree in Agriculture from University of Rwanda’s College Arts and Social Sciences in 2013, Janvier Mutiganda switched to journalism and filmmaking in order to pursue his childhood dream of making films.

He received a 6 months in-house training at Inyarwanda.com, after which he was taken on as a full time reporter, specialising in film. 

Today, he is not only a film critic for Inyarwanda.com, but also a budding film maker … I was born on October 18, 1989 in Kanombe, the then rural Kigali district from a farming family. My father died in the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi and I survived with my mother along other nine siblings (we were ten but the last born died in 1998). 

My childhood was marked by watching many films, and I don’t even remember when I began watching films or the number of films I’ve watched. 

As I was growing up, life took me in the direction it wanted and I went on to study sciences instead of literature or arts. I majored in Biology and Chemistry in high School and studied Agriculture at University.

That time, I felt that there is some part of me I’m leaving behind which is the artistic side of me. Right after graduating, I decided to drop out of the scientific career, and pursue my longtime dream of filmmaking.

Why did you leave the sciences for filmmaking?

The reason why I chose film as a profession dates back in my early years. I have watched many films from America, from war, drama, to Chinese Kung-Fu films, but when in 2002 I watched the 1982 Indian film “Disco Dancer” starring Mithun Chakraborty, and its story of a survivor of social discrimination, it appealed to me personally because after the death of my father, my mother had a hard time to nurture the 10 of us.

I saw in the film how society was scolding Jimmy and his mother and I reflected on my own story, and I was inspired that I can use film to tackle social issues. That is my main motive.

Challenges

As a film critic/journalist, the main challenge is that the industry’s production rate is low and that gives me hard time finding what to talk about (films). 

The second one is the level of understanding of Rwandan film industry players: Almost all film producers here don’t know how to deal with and/or the role of the media in promotion of their work. Many times I will run after them, and at the end of the day I find my hands empty.

The third challenge which is more important to me as a film critic is that the Rwandan film industry practitioners are hostile to criticism. This gives me a hard time when I have to criticize a product (film), event (award), or the way things are being handled. There, I create many enemies but I’m sure that they will understand at some point in the future.

What makes filmmaking interesting to you?

It’s the best medium to express my thoughts, vision or ideas on something especially social issues which kills society’s life and which need to be exposed. Film has been an easy way for me, and one which reaches a broader area, and at the end of the day you find out that the story you told in film is universal. 

Here, I will talk about my first short film Rayila, which tackles the issue of baby abandonment. When I was making it, I was making it as a Rwandan issue but when people around the globe watched it, they began to tell me that it happens every day. This is why I like film.

Anything you are working on at the moment?

I am currently writing and managing the production of the highly rated Rwanda Television series, Seburikoko, which is produced by Inyarwanda Ltd.

We are now onto season 3, which means, we are remaining with another season because it will be 4 seasons. 

I am also the main writer on the popular Sitcom Inshuti (Friends), on which I have also worked as a line producer.

 

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