Despite only having only two features and a handful of short films to his name, Theogene Bizimana has managed to captivate audiences and critics alike and is well respected as a prolific and innovative director.
It is perhaps the inspired combination of his vigilant, sensuous style with his often raw subject matter that allows him to create a powerful and enigmatic atmosphere in his films, whilst also concentrating on his company Silver Film Productions Limited.
The New Times Entertainment contributor Joseph Njata interviewed Bizimana. Below is what the film director had to say about his career.
Q: How far have you gone in filmmaking?
A: I started in 2009 with ‘Ayurukundo’, a film which introduced me to the limelight and, a few months ago, I released my second feature film entitled ‘Inzozi’. It is also doing quite well on the local film market.
Q: What inspired you into the filmmaking industry?
A: I have been a big fan of Nigerian movies since I was a teenager. However, I could not understand what propelled Nollywood into many productions. I felt that there are numerous Rwandan stories that are crying to be told. After watching a couple of Hollywood films, I got inspired into breaking the ice in my small way.
Q: Where do you see yourself in seven years?
A: Seven years from now, I will be an accomplished filmmaker not only here in Rwanda but in Africa. Every film is a big lesson to me and the more I make, the more I grow.
Q: How can filmmaking affect your relation with people both positively and negatively?
A: Filmmaking is a wonderful source of income. I know this might not make sense in Rwanda but if you see what the industry has done to Americans, you can agree that it’s a sure ticket to wealth creation.
On the flipside, filmmaking consumes a lot of time and this creates negative perception on people’s mindset. Look for example at how am spending a lot of time online researching for my second project. I have missed many social gatherings and my friends are not happy with me.
Q: How do you think film can promote sustainable development?
A: One of the government’s policies is to create jobs. My company has employed many youth in different departments. This includes DVD sellers, cameramen, soundmen, actors and editors – to mention but a few. This contributes positively towards a sustainable development.
Q: What piece of advice can you give to upcoming filmmakers?
A: They have to be brave and ready to face challenges. They should invest in further training in terms of attending workshops and if possible join a film school to professionalise the art.