U.S-based Rwandan filmmaker Gilbert Ndahayo is pursuing his master’s degree from the prestigious University of Columbia University’s grand film school in New York.
Ndahayo discovered his true passion for cinema in 2006 when he got an opportunity to make his first film ‘Scars Of My Days’, with the collaboration of Swedish Institute who were in Rwanda.
His debut film ‘Scars of My Days’ premiered at Tribeca Film Festival in 2007, in the presence of an audience that included former U.S President Bill Clinton, Rwandan President Paul Kagame and Hollywood celebrities Robert DeNiro, Whoopi Goldberg and Everybody Loves Raymond’s producer Jane Rosenthal (co-founder of Tribeca Film Festival).
The film ‘Scars of My Days’ won First Time Director’s Golden Impala at Amakula Film Festival in 2006 and, it has been screened in more than 20 film festivals around the world.
His second film titled ‘Behind This Convent’ won the 2008 Verona Award for Best African Feature Film. However, according to Ndahayo, it all started in 2009 when Cape Winelands Film Festival premiered his films ‘Scars of My Days’, and ‘Behind This Convent in South Africa.
The ‘Rwanda: Beyond The Deadly Pit’ film also premiered in 2010 at Pan African film Festival in Los Angeles, where it was nominated for Best African Documentary Feature and programmed in “Thought-Provoking Films” at the prestigious IDFA, the same year.
“Well, my mother wanted me to be a doctor or economist… I was forced to explore storytelling in cinema because something horrible has happened to me and my family. In no way would I have known that I would be in the United States and making films,” Gilbert told the audience during the screenings.
The festival offered a brilliant blend of films including the great Egyptian master, Youssef Chahine’s ‘Alexandria… Why?’ and a retrospective of the famous Portuguese director Manoel de Oliveira.
“Being a survivor of the Genocide does not necessary mean that one understands widely the subject. Most of us who survived, we were hiding. How does one make a film about the genocide he or she survived? I was not ready,” Gilbert explained.
The 66-minutes long film ‘Rwanda: Beyond The Deadly Pit’ is set to be screened in American Ivy league schools such as Cardozo School of Law (Program for Holocaust and Human Rights Studies), Yale University and at California State University, Sacramento’s Third International Conference on genocide.
Ndahayo is putting together contents for both feature films and drama - like the American HBO to produce African story-based films.
He urges African filmmakers to network for various opportunities available and make films that matter to them and the African continent.