The saying, “Experience is the best teacher” hold true for Rwanda’s Film industry. This week Rwanda Cinema Center is hosting some of Hollywood’s finest and longest serving Film Directors, Producers, Cinematographers including four-time Emmy Award winner Alfre Woodard who holds 40 years of experience in the film Industry.
During a press conference prior to the official opening of Kwetu Film Institute (KFI), Alfre Woodard encouraged investors and entrepreneurs to finance Rwanda’s film industry.
“I want to emphasize yet again that people in this country who have money can support those dreams. They can become the people who will build studios here. You have to invest in your artists. Business communities should step up,” said Woodard.
She further acknowledged the desire of established and amateur film makers in the country.
“It was really exciting working with the people here because the industry is blossoming. The young people that we met don’t only want to write, they want to act, edit and produce. They are very aware of how each discipline fits together to create a film set,” Woodard adds.
The nine-man-team delegation came to Rwanda following an invitation from Eric Kabera, a renowned Rwandan Filmmaker and Founder of the Rwanda Cinema Centre.
The delegation together with Rwanda Cinema Center is involved in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ International Outreach Committee (AMPAS), carrying out trainings and conferences with already established and upcoming Rwandan film makers.
The team included Ellen M. Harrington Director of Exhibition of AMPAS, Alfre Woodard Four - time Emmy Award winner, Wynn Thomas Production Designer, Phil Alden Robison Governor of the Academy (AMPAS), Carol Littleton Editor of feature films and Lee Daniels sole producer of an Academy winning film “Monster’s Ball in 2001.
Other Hollywood stars also incorporated were Willie Burton, a two-time Oscar Winner for sound, John Bailey Director of Photography and Stephanie Allain Producer and Founder of Homegrown Pictures.
Actor Marc J. Gwamaka who featured as ‘Patrick’ a leading role in Alrick Brown’s movie Kinyarwanda showing today, Tuesday July 26th, 2011 from 8:00 p.m to 9:40 p.m at the Manor Hotel Nyarutarama, said training with the film stars is life changing.
“As an amateur in acting, I learnt several acting skills that I didn’t know before. These film stars have been in the field for many years and it’s great that we were able to interact with them,” Gwamaka said.
“The trainings fully equipped me with lots of ideas about the industry,” he adds.
However, he cites a few challenges such as; the lack of agents to connect Rwandan actors and actresses to film projects and producers for movie roles.
Wynn Thomas, a Production Designer said that it was encouraging to see how young filmmakers understood what they were being told based on the movies they had produced or acted.
“It was amazing to see how they responded to criticism about their work. These trainings will greatly affect the choices they are making in the film industry,” Thomas explains.
Eric Kabera the founder of Rwanda Cinema Centre and Hillywood said Kwetu Film Institute (KFI) is a dream in the making.
“The land where this institute is built was our family property. It took me a convincing moment to tell my wife about the business prospects. I asked that we construct a visionary building that will benefit society,” Kabera said.
He explains that the project was entirely locally rooted and with all the blessings and commitment, it has finally produced fruits.
“The concept of Hillywood means cinema in the hills and it has nothing to do with Hollywood as several people think. It’s a huge achievement for my country and I continue to believe in the support of the government,” Kabera explains.
The ongoing Rwanda Film Festival (RFF) is an initiative of the Rwanda Cinema Center (RCC) whose main objective is to showcase Rwandan efforts to tell their own stories and expose these to the wider international audience.
Further more, Kwetu Film Institute will provide a holistic, sustainable and internationally recognized media training facility through cinematic education and training, programs in film, television as well as supporting programs in the performing arts.