I was waiting to watch Return Ticket since the day Pierre KAYITANA, the film’s producer and co-director floated the story- line to me.
The film revolves around Paul, a policeman from Liechtenstein, who has to extradite Fidele, a suspected war criminal. Upon arrival at Kigali International Airport, Paul realises his ticket is a one way.
He asks for a ticket, but a one way to Europe is more expensive than a return ticket, so he decides to buy a return ticket and the flight available is only three days later.
The taxi driver, Innocent promises to take Paul to the Volcano National Park to see the Mountain gorillas. However, Innocent cannot miss his elder sister's wedding in Huye, so he invites Paul as a special guest. On their way through the beautiful landscapes of Rwanda, Paul falls in love with the country and Innocent's beautiful younger sister, Shan.
Coincidentally, they discover that Fidele, who is mistaken for someone else, is a brother to Innocent and Shan. The next day, a flat tire delays their journey to the gorillas tour. But Paul will come back because he has booked a ‘Return Ticket’ to Rwanda.
As a movie fan, the idea of having a funny product into the Rwandan market blew me off. I had built the movie up in my mind and I was not willing to miss its world premiere in Kigali.
The day was busy after word went round that Kigalians would again be treated to a new film courtesy of Rwanda Cinema Centre. On my way to Goethe Institut—Kacyiru, I suddenly realised that the film scene has changed. A good number of Kigalians had already booked themselves at the venue hours earlier to secure the best spots in the hall.
The program was also packed with three local short films. Return Ticket was accorded the last slot, an idea that succeeded in ensuring that the whole audience remained seated until it’s credit roll.
Karin Kathoeffer, the outgoing director of Goethe Institut –Kigali, who hosted the event, gave a short speech that ushered in the screenings. The short films were well received and the mood was ecstatic. A moment later, the audience was treated to a ten-minute cocktail to usher in the 56-minute long film.
The film had a strong introduction that was laced with great images and matching music. In almost all scenes, the audience was in stitches courtesy of the character, Danon MUSONI ,who played Innocent in the film. He executed his role with an undeniable humorous touch.
Watching him on the screen, one could have been forgiven in assuming that he has been acting for some time. Far from it, this was his debut in acting.
The main character, Allan KARAKIRE, who played Paul, was fantastic in his role owing to his masterly of the queen’s language – although a Rwandan, his long stint in Canada must have contributed to this.
Far and wide, the acting was generally phenomenal. However, many audiences had some misgivings on a church scene. They found it unnecessarily long and didn’t contribute much in moving the story forward. The film director was categorical on affecting the changes.
Immediately after the screening, Pierre KAYITANA confided in me that he was inspired and encouraged to start working on his own films by George Walton Lucas, an American film producer, screenwriter, director and founder/chairman of Lucasfilm Ltd.
“Lucas told me I was lucky to live in Rwanda and being in film is not like in USA, where they have thousand of filmmakers,” Kayitana said.
The movie was not a complete flop; it had really great parts in it. All scenes are done in English.
Return Ticket is the type of movie appeal to both the young and old on a large scale. They are enamoured with the funny touch of the film. The movie is well made and much more technologically advance from most of the local productions in the market.
The film is directed by Kerim Esen.
Joseph Njata is a film critic and admin assistant at KWETU Film Institute