Rwandan filmmaker believes passion comes before money

Christian Gakombe is an experienced local cinematographer, currently working with Rwanda Cinema Centre (RCC).Gakombe is a common figure at many high profile events in Kigali, and his unique video footage has been used by different international media houses such as CNN and Aljazeera.
Hard At Work. Christian Gakombe during the Film Africa workshop in Kenya. The New Times / J. Njata
Hard At Work. Christian Gakombe during the Film Africa workshop in Kenya. The New Times / J. Njata

Christian Gakombe is an experienced local cinematographer, currently working with Rwanda Cinema Centre (RCC).
Gakombe is a common figure at many high profile events in Kigali, and his unique video footage has been used by different international media houses such as CNN and Aljazeera.

The New Times’ Entertainment contributor Joseph Njata, caught up with him on his return from Kenya, where he represented Rwanda at the annual FilmAfrica workshop.

TNT: What inspired you to join the filmmaking industry?

Gakombe: When I was young, I used to enjoy watching movies. In 2003, an opportunity struck and I found myself on a film set with a team of professional filmmakers. This was to become my defining moment. It was very fascinating and that experience inspired me to join the film industry as a cinematographer.

TNT:  How far have you gone into the filmmaking?

Gakombe: I come from the village and I had a privilege to work in various film productions in Rwanda. I was the location scouting manager for ‘Sometimes in April’ and ‘Opération Turquoise.’

I was also the Assistant Director for ‘The day God walk away’ and ‘A new home’, a documentary about Congolese refuges.

I was a cinematography mentor at the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) Filmmaking Workshop in 2010, Director of Photography for both Rwanda Police and RPF documentaries.

Last year, I got an opportunity not only to make money but also to work for the Aljazeera as a cinematographer during the Rwanda’s 2010 Presidential Campaign. And this year, I got another opportunity to work as the director of photography for ‘Agaciro’ documentary film that was screened at the Rwanda Day celebrations in Chicago (USA).
To crown it all, last July, I represented Rwanda at the prestigious annual FilmAfrica workshop in Nairobi and learnt how to use the Red Camera.

TNT: Where do you see yourself in seven years from today?

Gakombe: I have a vision of sharing my camera skills with the rural Africans. I have realised that my rural brothers and sisters have many stories to tell.

I will start with my country where there is need for more cinematographers and then proceed to other neighboring countries. As you know, Rwanda is at the heart of Africa and everything begins with the heart.

It is against this backdrop that I believe am not only a cinematography ambassador for Rwanda but also for the entire continent.

TNT: How can filmmaking affect your relationship with people both positively and negatively?

Gakombe: Filmmaking exposes you to travelling where you meet many different people and learn much from them. However, there is a problem of being tied up with a given project thereby failing to have enough time with family and friends. This might lead people to brand you as antisocial.

TNT: Do you think film can promote sustainable development?

Gakombe: Film is big business in a new trend of economy known as social entrepreneurship. In addition, film is a powerful marketing tool for a country’s image.

One film can lead a country to be better known by foreign bodies and this boosts foreign investments leading to sustainable development.

Again, filmmakers can accelerate the need for more TV stations and hence create the much needed jobs.

TNT: What advice do you have for upcoming filmmakers?

Gakombe: I advise upcoming filmmakers not to think about money first when they join the film industry. They should persevere walking long distances, missing food to learn filmmaking. For this to be possible, they must have a passion for films.

They should not whine but instead learn how to create solutions to problems. They should not be like eagles, whose mothers teach how to fly and after learning they forget the bridge that helped them cross the soaring river.

They should have discipline and always respect people, who opened their gates to filmmaking.

Ends

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