Gilbert Ndahayo’s 2010 film ‘Rwanda: Beyond The Deadly Pit’ received the Best Feature Award, Santa Clara County Commendation and US House of Representative - Congressional Special Recognition during the 2011 Silicon Valley African Film Festival.
The film festival, based at Silicon Valley - the world’s technology hub, showcased more than 30 films – a mix of feature films, short and animation films from Africa’s seasoned and emerging filmmakers from 16 African nations.
The festival featured two of Ndahayo’s films and those of Zola Maseko from South Africa apart from Tanzanian filmmaker Ekwa Msangi-Omari.
Ndahayo’s documentary ‘Rwanda: Beyond The Deadly Pit’ is a personal account of the filmmaker’s journey to forgiveness and healing after his parents, and other family members were killed during the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi.
Rev. William Blaine-Wallace, the Multifaith chaplain at Bates College in Maine (USA), referred to Ndahayo’s 100 minute film in his 340-page book “A Pastoral Psychology of Lament (Pastoral Method-Priestly Act-Prophetic Witness).
He said: “[in Ndahayo’s film]… They reconfigured bodies from the remains, as best they could. They placed each in a coffin draped in white and marked with a purple cross.
While they worked, they sang, prayed, laughed and cried. In the evenings, they shared memories and participated in conversations about embracing the future, learning about reconciliation, practicing forgiveness.
“Most of testimonies from people around the world who have watched my films show compassion and also commend my film to be shown to many more places. It is a tribute not only to my parents and relatives but also other victims of genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda,” Ndahayo said.
He is an auteur film director, reputed for cinema verity and long-take often unconventional in filmmaking. In the documentary, Ndahayo used Steven Spielberg’s recording digital technique of genocide testimonials.
His previous films ‘Behind This Convent’ (2008, 66 min) - recipient of Verona Award and Signi s Commendation, and debut short narrative ‘Scars Of My Days’ (2006, 30 min), – Amakula Golden Impala Commendation, have been screened internationally and have been receiving critical acclaim.
Ndahayo was born to a lawyer and politician father and his mother was a teacher. He studied History, English and Education at Kigali Institute of Education (KIE). Currently, he lives in New York where he is pursuing his Masters in Fine Arts at Columbia University.
Ndahayo is the owner of Rwanda: The Movie, an independent film company registered in New York dedicated, among other things, to providing services to American and European film producers who travel to Africa to make films there.
He is also putting together contents of both feature films and drama - like the American HBO to produce African story-based films.