Kerim Esen is a prolific German filmmaker, who is highly regarded for directing ‘Return Ticket’, a film produced and co-directed by the director of Rwanda Cinema Centre / Rwanda Film Festival, Pierre L. Kayitana.
The New Times’ entertainment contributor and Administrative Assistant at KWETU Film Institute, Joseph Njata caught up with Kerim.
Below are the excerpts.
How long have you been in Rwanda?
Kerim: I came to Rwanda in 2009 from Munich, Germany.
What would you say drew you into the film industry?
When I was a child, I wanted to become a theatre director. Over the years, I realised how the media is more immediate; appreciating the film industry’s wide variety of techniques on how to unfold stories.
Who are your favourite directors of all time?
My favourite directors are Federico Fellini, Sergio Leone and Rainer Werner Fassbinder as well as Spain’s Pedro Almodovar and Bigas Luna, among others.
What are you (presently) working on?
I am working on my new script titled ‘Snow over Berlin’, and I hope it will enable me to participate in the Berlinale, the annual Film Festival in Berlin, Germany.
In this script, three parallel stories are told. In the end, the main characters, living in Kigali, Berlin and New York, respectively, realise that their lives are connected for good by the strong bonds of love, blood and friendship.
This is a project I would really like to release in 2012. I am still looking for a budget. After that, I would like to direct ‘Dinner for Elvis’, a comedy which I wrote ten years ago. It is a story about two guys looking for their ‘dream women’.
How can filmmaking affect your relationship with people both positively and negatively?
Well, as a director you are responsible for everything. So, if things do not work at the beginning, there is a danger to be very upset and to be perceived by cast and crew as some sort of a dictator.
On the other hand, what I learned is that actors and crew can offer more than what a director expects. So, one has to try to give them the space to develop their potential and to catch these precious moments on film material.
Directing ‘Return Ticket’ really changed my life in Rwanda. I have the feeling that I doubled my circle of friends because I consider most people I worked with as friends now.
Do you think film can promote sustainable development?
Culture is identity. Therefore, culture is a very important component of development, and film is one component of culture.
I hope that Rwanda will take advantage of its Hillywood potential and become a player in the global or African audiovisual industry.
Where do you see yourself seven years from now?
In 2018? - Taking my kids to movies.
Synopsis of the movie ‘Return Ticket’
‘Return Ticket’ is a comedy and road movie – produced by RCC and Amoral Film production. It is a fast mover and wastes no time in announcing its intentions.
The film rotates around Paul (Allan Karakire), 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 (Danon Musoni) 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.
Meanwhile, they discover that Fidele, who is mistaken for someone else, is a brother to Innocent and Shan. The next day, a flat tyre delays their journey to the gorilla tour. But Paul will get back because he has booked a ‘Return Ticket’ to Rwanda.