We are embarking on Hillywood’s biggest movie project to tell Rwanda’s story—Eric Kabera
Rwanda’s budding movie industry-Hillywood is embarking on what is billed as its biggest movie project ever—the planned shooting of Rwanda’s liberation struggle.
FRED OLUOCH-OJIWAH of The New Times talks to ERIC KABERA, the founder of Hillywood on what is expected from the movie project dubbed “Before and After”.
Brief our readers about this on-going project to shoot a movie based on Rwanda’s liberation struggle.
It is a pretty ambitious project. Titanic by nature. If it comes to pass, it will definitely be one of the biggest projects ever for us by us.
The idea will be for me to direct it. The idea is to have it come out with a soul and genesis out of the Rwanda context.
Are you talking about the Rwanda story?
Yes. Definitely. This should not be inspired by anybody’s experience, or anybody’s fabrication, but it will be largely inspired by the people we have talked to as well as the people we will keep on talking to in terms of people who have given us their time generously to discuss the making of such a movie. We are talking about producing a pretty, solid and ambitious movie.
Hilly wood must be collaborating with very prestigious and notable companies to do that First and foremost we have to rely on our own creative inputs to get the movie idea out of its roots.
By that I am talking about the sort of thing you did on producing “Africa United”
The bottom line is to get the story. That is the soul and genesis of this product we are working on.
It is the Rwanda story. Having said that, I must add that we are looking forward to collaborate with international producers.
However, it is too early in the day to give more details about who is coming on board.
How about the producers, the cast and the characters going to be casted?
For instance who is playing President Paul Kagame is this movie? How about Major General Fred Gisa Rwigema since we are talking about Rwanda’s liberation story?
It is pretty early to talk about the cast and characters. Talking about the characters, it is about young men and women embarking on this great sacrifice to liberate their country. The Rwanda we have today is owed to them.
Let me repeat by saying that apart from what you are talking about, everybody is pretty much aware of who did what. That is the legend of the liberation story.
I want to tell that we just want to pay credit to where it is due. That is almost 20 years since the struggle ensued. Many of them died.
It seems as if you cannot tell me about the characters of this movie much as the outstanding contributors to the success of the struggle are well known
We are going to create a fiction tale. I will give you a perfect example. Steven Spielberg’s highly acclaimed movie “Saving Private Ryan”.
It is not about the American or British generals who led the liberation of Europe from the Nazi’s during the Second World War. This movie is about a simple obscure lowest ranking soldier who becomes the major subject of contest during Second World War.
I am talking about that kind of scenario. This movie’s production did not focus on the top brass the way you may be thinking. The focus is quite different .
Nonetheless it will not ignore the roles played by such leaders but we are talking about those who made contributions in their own way as simple obscure fighters.
The bottom line is to create a nice story that will reveal the resilience and the power of the liberation struggle.
OK. But please tell us about the cast. For instance, Don Cheadle played “Hotel Rwanda”.
Are we going to see a movie star such as Will Smith taking up a role in this movie?
I will not be drawn into that discussion. Nevertheless, when I pitched the story to a number of agents for individual producers, there was an interest.
When such persons are told the Rwanda story in a nut shell, they are keen to get involved.
I am talking about the famous actors and producers as you mentioned Steven Spielberg.The story of Rwanda is not about big time actors and producers.
Please do not mistake me. All I am asking is whether they can buy into the story.
We have to believe in our story before anybody else can believe in it. That has always been my principle. Whether it is a small or big story.
It has to be a story that I believe in. Secondly it has to represent my country in a respectful way. Thirdly its creativity must bring out the values of this nation.
Can you reveal the budget of the movie?
It is not yet done. We are still at the very early stage.
Let me interject by saying that someone in the know has given me an estimate though I will not reveal it to you either. This guy says that, indications are such that the budget is bigger than that of “Africa United” bearing in mind the scope of the project. It is known that Africa United’s budget was a cool $6 million
No. We will not discuss the budget at this juncture. Reason being that drawing the budget depends on a number of things such as the script. What is happening is that we are still working on that.
The script writer Audrey Atkins, an Irish Hollywood based writer spent about 2 weeks working on it touring Rwanda such as Eastern Province. She met several people and she was incredibly moved to see how far Rwanda has come.
From the script we will get to know who will feature then casting will follow. From there then budgeting comes into play.
What kind of a movie is it?
It is an action movie. We will have suspense. We will have all those elements you see in an action movie.
How about local value addition?By this I mean what local inputs do we expect from this movie apart from having some local actors?
Apart from the story I can confirm that a substantial chunk of items will be sourced locally. For instance it will shot on location right here in Rwanda. We are here to promote local talent and local inputs needed to make a movie of such a nature.
I am talking about our cinematographers, engineers and the rest of the crew needed. We need to grow together.
How is this movie going to be different from “Hotel Rwanda”?
With due respect to “Hotel Rwanda”, I can tell you that this movie is going to reflect the real endeavors of the women and men who gave their lives to the liberation of this country.
How about the Genocide against the Tutsi?
You cannot tell the story of Rwanda without talking about the genocide against the Tutsi. However, I must emphasize that this is not another genocide movie.
Where will you draw the line?
The genocide is within the back drop of this story. The fear, the anxiety, the suspense that is taking place is in the shadows of this movie.
How about correcting the stereotypes that surround the struggle? The struggle itself is a very emotional issue. It has the Genocide, the aftermath of the genocide brought the conflict in Congo and so many other things.
Do you see this movie debunking some of the stereotypes surrounding the struggle?
The real issue is to pay respect and tribute to the men and women of this nation. Most of Rwandans lived outside their country and were blocked from returning to their motherland.
No one expected that Rwanda will one day be among the respected nations of this continent. We never knew that we will move on as a nation by having people who perpetrated and those aggrieved by the genocide living side by side.
In this movie we will not dwell into the genesis of issues such as the Congo wars. We just want to tell a good emotional story of the struggle.
What does it mean for Hillywood?
It is a milestone and it is something that Rwanda should be proud of. I am talking about making a movie that pays respect to those who gave up their lives for this country. It is a privilege.
While I would not want to be seen as making a definitive movie of the struggle, however this is going to the first ever.
Are you in a position to tell the readers about the name of this movie?
It is very interesting topic. After many working titles with my team, we said what if we call this movie “Before and After?”
Any other thing you would want to add on?
We have 10 Hollywood personalities coming to Rwanda to impart knowledge to our local guys.
These are very talented people coming to impart skills in various areas of movie making having worked on some of the most acclaimed movies ever made by mankind.