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Presentation of 3 brand new Rwandan short films: Film Premiere & Award Gala “Rethinking RECONCILIATION”

By Kwetu editor
posted on: 2014/06/17

film award premiere

On Sunday June 15th 2014, the luxurious Kigali Serena hotel hosted the premiere of three short films by Rwandan directors. Event organizer Peter Stepan from the Goethe-Institute said he had expected an audience of 500, but almost 1,000 people came to the hotel’s conference center to watch the movies and listen to a keynote speech by Gertrude Fester, a Kigali based civil rights activist from South Africa!

The films were the product of a screenwriting competition last year. Rwandan filmmakers submitted over 40 scripts that addressed the theme of “Rethinking Reconciliation” to a panel of experts that included Kwetu Film Institute’s CIM Project Coordinator, Martin Brandes. The panel then chose the three best scripts and awarded funds to the writers to realize their projects.

The finished films that screened at Kigali Serena were “Crossing Lines” by Samuel Ishimwe, “Akaliza Keza” by Philbert Aimé Mbabazi, and “The Invincible” by Yves Montand Niyongabo, all challenging works of art that explored the difficulties of reconciling with family and neighbors in the aftermath of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsis.

“Crossing Lines” tells the story of a young Tutsi doctor and a Hutu man recently released from prison. Both struggle with the memory of the genocide and their feelings of guilt. The two characters have a tense but ultimately healing confrontation.

“Akaliza Keza” is based on a true story. The protagonist Akaliza plummets into self-destruction when she learns that her husband concealed his Hutu identity from her. Akaliza wants to abort her baby, refusing to bring another Hutu into the world but her decision does not go as planned.

The third film of the evening, “The Invincible,” is a documentary film about singer Jean Paul Samputu’s journey to forgive his neighbor and friend Vincent, who committed genocide atrocities against Samputu’s family. Turning to prayer for hope, Samputu finds it within himself to forgive Vincent.

None of the three films turned away from difficult subjects. They covered everything from suicide, dangerous third trimester abortion, and substance abuse as bumps in the road to recovery from genocide. Before “Akaliza Keza” screened, the director said he knew many stories portrayed reconciliation as easy, but he felt that he needed to show “it is not always easy.”

After an audience vote, “The Invincible” was declared the best film of the evening, winning 1,000,000 RWF. The director was not present to accept his award, but asked last year’s winner to read a statement for him. The Kwetu Film Institute team congratulates all of the filmmakers on their excellent work and contribution to Rwandan cinema!

In addition to the Goethe-Institut and the GIZ, the event was also sponsored by Plan International Rwanda, the KFW German Development Bank, Partnership Rhineland-Palatinate/Rwanda, and International Alert.