Floriane Kaneza is the Director of the Mashariki African Film Festival, whose third edition concluded in Kigali on March 31. The closing ceremony at the Kigali Conference and Exhibition Village saw seven local and continental filmmakers walk away with awards and accolades in various film disciplines. She talked to Society Magazine’s Moses Opobo about a cross section of issues about the local film industry.
Who is Kaneza?
I am a Burundian filmmaker and director, based in Rwanda from 2015, and the current director of Mashariki African Film Festival.
What’s your claim to the world of film?
My career begun in 2009 as an actress for stage, film, and TV series for the Burundian national radio and TV. In 2012, I went through film production and directing in Itulive Media and Communications and later in 2013, with partners, I created Itulive Actors’ Agency of which I was Director.
How and when did you join Mashariki?
Mashariki African Film Festival is a festival that I knew from its first edition in 2015. I was called from Burundi to join the festival as one of the jury members and, from that, I have been following it closely.
I joined the festival team in September 2016 to prepare for the third edition held from March 25 to 31, 2017), and I would say that my journey with it is just starting.
What do you do as festival director?
As director, I am one of the key decision makers for the festival. I work in tandem with the whole team. Briefly, I am the supervisor and responsible for other festival team members.
Out of all story-telling mediums, why did you settle for film?
Cinema is a language that can be understood without much explanation. Cinema shows. My choice of being a filmmaker came from the fact of being an observer and a need to be a transmitter of stories. Cinema to me is also a database of the past for the future generation. And so I automatically chose to be a contributor to that positive journey.
What challenges does filmmaking pose to a woman like you?
The world of film is very wide. Cinema is today called the seventh art, meaning it’s a convergence point for all the other art forms.
This means that we can no longer afford to view girls and women as less able than men. It all comes down to an individual to forge their level through creativity and hard work.
The other challenge is when the work of filmmaking comes to the real African woman, who, years ago, was supposed to be at home all the time with husband and kids.
Girls are quite many in the film industry but coming to women, the number decreases significantly. I think they need more energy to manage women's responsibilities and filmmaking. It only works when you are supported.
What do you like, and what don’t you appreciate about the local film industry?
I like the way we feel about it, as we are all proud to be called filmmakers. But on the other side, I dislike how we fear (or don’t want) to live the real life of filmmaking (the struggles, in other words). We try to escape and at the same time stay in. We should put all our energy in it and work hard to see it grow.
As filmmaking we aren’t going deep enough, and that’s because it’s useless to try making good films when people don’t watch and appreciate what a good film is.
It’s a culture that needs to grow, the cinema culture. It is from analysis and critics that we learn from others.
What does the future hold for you?
Currently I’m doing research for my next feature documentary project on East African cinema as one of the database tools that the small world we live in will need in the future.