Jean-Claude Uwiringiyimana is the director of production for Flash Media Productions; he talks to BRYAN KIMENYI about his work and life.
Jean-Claude Uwiringiyinama is certainly not without experience.
The 34 year old producer has been the Director of the University Centre for Arts and Drama (in 2003) and a consultant for the Forum for African Women Educationalists Rwanda –FAWE in the subject of Art (2001-2002).
Before this, Uwiringiyimana worked as a cultural broadcast producer for Rwanda Television (2000-2002). He currently teaches courses related to languages, art and culture at National University of Rwanda (NUR) in the Faculty of Arts and Humanities and also in the School of Journalism and Communication.
And if he is not short on experience, he’s also remarkably well qualified. He holds an honors degree in African Languages and Literature from the NUR which preceded a masters in Texts, Languages, and Cultures from Université de Limoges in France. He also attained a certificate in film directing from Ecole de Cinema et de Television de Québec.
It’s with this know-how that he was able to write and produce the film, ‘Itegeko Ntiriteranya’ (The Law Doesn’t Separate People).
The 112 minute film about human rights was financed by the European Commission. However, most of his work is realised in the field of theatre and not film.
Most notable of his plays is the 1999 forum theatre ‘Ibanga ry’ Ibamba’ (A Dangerous Secret) which examines sexual violence against young women and the dangerous effects of HIV/Aids.
“It is easy to get the attention of the youths through drama, movies and other sorts of entertainment. The youths may think they are being entertained, but they are also getting the message that you want to put across,’ the soft spoken producer and playwright says.
His first success in the field of art was realized in the Fest Africa competitions held in Kigali. Two of his short stories were first and second prizes in the Kinyarwanda and French versions respectively.
In 2001, he released ‘Ikubise Mukeba’ (A Stick Which Beats Your Concubine). It was released on African Child’s day and made with the help of Save the Children.
He followed it up with a short movie entitled ‘Umurishyo w’Ubworoherane’ (Tolerance Drumbeat} which focuses on tolerance and forgiveness. The film was recognised by the National Museum of Rwanda for its importance in building the Rwandan community.
In 2006, Uwiringiyimana’s brain child-Flash Media Productions produced a serial film, ‘Uwera, Jacques 1,12’ which also focuses on Aids and youth.
“Forum Plays are a theme of mass communication. I see them as the most important tool in educating the youth in our country about the realities of their generation, not forgetting HIV/Aids,” he says.
Flash Media Productions are also the producers of the documentary film ‘Complot ou Fin de Règne’ (Plot or end of Reign) about King Rudahigwa, which was selected on international level at the Hergla Cinematographic Conferences in Tunisia in 2006.
Other notable films by the 34 year old producer are a documentary film, Femmes et Tambours ou Les Tambours de la Tolérance (Women or the Tolerance Drums) which was among the 2,500 movies shown at Festival International du Documentaire ‘Cinéma du Réel’ (International Festival of the Documentary ‘Real Cinema’) of Paris, France at the beginning of February 2008.
It is also one of the 300 international movies which were selected to appear at the professional Video Library in Paris in March 2008. The same short documentary was in the limelight last month when it was nominated to compete in the recently concluded Zanzibar International Film Festival (ZIFF).
Fans of Rwandan movies should keep their fingers crossed for one of the most explosive film on this land of a thousand hills. It’s a film Uwiringiyimana is shooting in the western province about the heroes of the night of 18th March 1997, when students from Nyange Secondary School refused to separate themselves ethnically and were burnt alive.
As a man who has been there and done it, he has a message to his fellow film makers and the industry at large: “Making films is expensive; patience is the driving force of what we do. We have to take risks and co-operate to develop film production. There are some of us who are good at editing, writing and making films, we all need one another. Together we can!”
Uwiringiyimana is married with two children. Despite the fact that there is no work without play, Uwiringiyimana lives by the philosophy ‘nulla dis sine linea’ (‘no day without a line’}.
“My life rotates around playwriting; I find it very hard to finish a day without noting down something.”
Uwiringiyimana is an admirer of legendary American actor Eddie Murphy.