Last year, the Rwandan film industry saw a number of films being produced in the country, while other filmmakers made their names abroad. The most famous one to be produced in Kigali was the love movie, ‘Anita’ which was followed by its sequel, ‘Anita II’.
A number of popular actors featured in the movie including Willy Ndahiro and Danny Gaga, among others. ‘Anita’ was launched in a colourful ceremony held at Sports View Hotel and graced by local musicians Urban Boyz and Jay Polly in September, while ‘Anita II’ was launched in November.
The year also saw Rwandan actor Ddjoli Kayitankore, aka Kayombya launch his movie, ‘Bwenje Naguhenze’ in Belgium in November. The co-organiser of the launch, ‘Belgine Bizimana’ said at the time that the move was an opportunity for local actors to penetrate international market.
“I want to give Kanyombya and other artistes a chance to prove to Rwandans in the Diaspora and foreigners that Rwanda’s movie industry is steadily growing,” said Bizimana.
Kayombya said: “I am excited to screen my movie in Belgium and I can promise people there that, Bwenje Naguhenze is a great movie,” just before its launch. The one-week movie festival featured comedies, drama, short and feature-length films, as well as documentaries.
Held under the theme, “Our Mothers, Our Heroes,” the festival was a celebration of the role women play both as actors and behind the scenes. Of the 42 films shown during the festival including ‘Mama Africa’ that highlights the life of Miriam Makeba, the world-famous South African artist and civil right activist, 65% were directed by women, while many of them also featured women actors.
Eric Kabera, founder of Kwetu Film Institute and a renowned figure in Rwanda film industry and founder of the annual Film Festival, explained that every year presented some challenge getting people to be aware what the film festival stood for. Thus, the idea was conceived to take film to the people. The films were screened in several bars and restaurants including The Office, Club Rafiki, Papyrus and Kigali Public Library among others during its first few days.
From Kigali, the Festival moved to Rwamagana, Huye and Musanze where film lovers had a chance to watch local films produced by Rwandans.
Kabera was also one of the casts that starred in another prominent film, ‘Finding Hillywood’ that was released this year. Others were Ayuub Kasasa Mago, Richmond Runanira, Rodrigues Karekezi and Nicole Kalisa.
The Leah Warshawski’s documentary explores the growing film industry in Rwanda, and shows the power of cinema as a catalyst for healing and change.
The documentary has been shown in a number of locations in the West, including, Roy St. Coffee & Tea in Seattle in June and Academy Theatre in New York in October among other several locations. It was also one of the documentaries that were shown during the Rwanda Film Festival across the country.
In October, Gilbert Ndahayo, USA-based Rwanda filmmaker did the country proud by scooping an award at the 2013 Silicon Valley African Film Festival. He was honoured with The Best Documentary Film Award for his documentary, “The Rwandan Night.”
It was a sight to behold as the first ever East Africa Arts and Culture festival, code-named Jamafest, was held in Kigali a few months ago.
The one-week event featured hundreds of performers from the five partner States and was attended by thousands of people.
Preceding the opening ceremony was the street carnival where performers paraded along Kigali streets, from Nyamirambo to the city centre and then to Petit Stade, where it was officially opened by the Minister for Sports and Culture Protais Mitali. It was held under the theme, “fostering the East African Community Integration through Cultural Industries.”
The minister observed that the “Partner States had gathered in Kigali to celebrate and acknowledge the great importance of our cultural identity while appreciating the significance of coming together to interact and share experiences meant to foster social cohesion and unity among our people.” He added, “In cultural expressions such as music, dance, drama, art and crafts, people share cultural values and are able to feel oneness as well as the cohesion that exists among them as one people with a common destiny,” he added.
During the festival, many exhibitors expressed hope that exposing, showcasing and sharing their skills is a great way through which EAC is going to create a thriving cultural art business in the region. It was organised under the theme “Fostering the East African Community Integration through Cultural Industries.”
Modeste Nzayisenga, a cultural psychotherapist from Rwanda Cultural Health Centre, said the African cultural artifacts were not only made for their aesthetic values but could also be used as a great tool for education.
Annick Kabatesi, a Burundian who exhibited traditional “bark cloth” garments under association- “Murundikazi Fashion, stressed that her main dream is to exploit the business opportunities that can now be found in the East Africa region and also to pass on her skills to other people she interacts with. She said she was quite proud of her artistic skills since the bark clothes had unique designs that were well appreciated by famous artists in her country, Burundi as well as others from different countries.
Another exhibitor, Francine Mugumyangingo said it was very crucial to train more workers within the East Africa region so that its cultural arts could thrive. She added that she would do a lot of networking during the festivals and after to enable her open many branches in different cities within the East African region. She noted that this was an opportunity that one could not let pass just like that, and vowed that her portraits would soon grace East Africa.
through which the people of East Africa could come together, now that the region is moving fully towards regional integration. But a number of them also agreed that in future, the organisers should include other cultural events like sports that also have influence of bringing people together.