THE NEW TIMES
by Moses SERUGO 23 July 2013
Opening with Mama Africa, a documentary that charts the life of celebrated South African diva, Miriam Makeba (March 4, 1932-November 9, 2008) gave the ninth edition of the Rwanda Film Festival its requisite credentials in line with the 2013 theme: Our Mothers, Our Heroes.
Makeba was widely recognised as a hero of the South African anti-apartheid struggle and while giving his pre-screening speech, the South African High Commissioner to Rwanda George Nkosinati Twala called on local filmmakers to document the contribution of women to the Rwandan liberation struggle.
Nkosinati was speaking at the festival’s opening night at Century Cinema at Kigali City Towers.
He also asked filmmakers to document the lives of the artistes that provided the soundtrack to the struggle: “Artistes are our conscience. They reflect our pain. We need to acknowledge them.”
The Minister for Gender and Family Promotion, Oda Gasinzigwa, on the other hand, urged filmmakers to portray women in film more positively.
Festival director Eric Kabera was beside himself with glee acknowledging that having a cinema as a principal screening venue was a festival first.
The festival will have additional screening venues at Kigali Public Library, New Papyrus, The Office in Kiyovu, Kimisagara Youth Centre, Club Rafiki in Nyamirambo and a special screening of the Genocide film Imbabazi at the Kigali Memorial Centre in Gisozi.
Mama Africa (German Trailer)
Mama Africa is a befitting tribute to Makeba, whose joyous songs like Pata Pata masked the agony she lived with as an exile banished from her home country South Africa.
Makeba spent the better part of her anti-apartheid struggle outside South Africa living in far-flung places like the United States. While there she built a network of musical friends that helped her push her anti-apartheid agenda whose highlight was a speech she made at the United Nations.
The documentary uses archival footage because it was shot after the death of the acclaimed African diva. Makeba died on November 9, 2008 while on tour in Italy. The bulk of the material is from interviews of people that lived and worked with Makeba, including her former lovers Hugh Masekela and Harry Belafonte and her grandchildren.
It is interspersed with excerpts from Makeba’s legendary performances including Pata Pata, a song she says she had gotten tired of performing owing to its lack of lyrical content but was quite popular with audiences globally.
The documentary also recounts sad moments in Makeba’s life including how her mother was detained for brewing and selling umquombothi beer when Makeba was only 18 days old. You cannot help but wipe a tear when Makeba sits on her mother’s grave “like I’d sit on her lap,” the first thing she does upon returning to South Africa.
Her most significant musical encounter in exile is a London meeting with Harry Belafonte that paves way for a career in the US and her famous speech at the United Nations.
Director Mika Kaurismaki does a great job weaving together black and white footage and personal tales of Makeba, who include ex-lovers, musical peers and Makeba’s two grandchildren from her daughter who takes credit for composing the Mozambiquan liberation anthem A Luta Continua.
Mama Africa will show again at Century Cinema on Thursday May 25, at 9pm.
THE ROAD TO HILLYWOOD
Rwanda Film Festival, also known as “Hillywood,” has established itself not only as the country’s most important cultural event, but is fast becoming one of Africa’s most prestigious film festival. For 7 days, film lovers, filmmakers, industry professionals and the media will experience the best in local and international cinema from established masters and new talent.
Our principal objective is to promote and encourage awareness, appreciation and understanding of the art of cinema in Rwanda. Our mandate is to present the most outstanding films produced in every part of the world. Films are selected on the basis of quality and originality. The Festival also promotes contacts between industry professionals to assist in the development of the Rwandan motion picture industry. … See the Movie Guide 2013
Source: allafrica.com, rwandafilmfestival.net
The African premiere of ‘Sweet Poison’, an 89-minute documentary on the blessings and curse of foreign development aid took place at Kigali Serena Hotel on Tuesday.
Kenya’s Turkana Fishplant in ruins.
Written and directed by Peter Heller, the film had its first world premiere two weeks ago at the Hamburg Film Festival in Germany.
The movie’s subtitle ‘Aid as Business’ displays a clear view of foreign aid from various African perspectives. It is estimated that over 800,000 people worldwide survive on aid.
Production crew during a shooting session of the film.
Another scene in the movie that demonstrate the orgies of aid.
Focusing on Mali, Kenya and Tanzania as case studies, from over a period of thirty years, ‘Sweet Poison’ demonstrates that development aid has had only limited and sometimes questionable effects.
First, the documentary reveals the initial impression Africans get as they receive aid in the form of food, infrastructure and machinery. But as a result, the aid creates a dependency syndrome among the people/countries who end up discarding activities that sustained them before.
The film also highlights the taboos of north to south relations and the African complex with provocative analytic statements, views and opinions from African journalists and experts. It then offers options for African countries to develop towards a self-determined future.
Once aid is then withdrawn, people become vulnerable and are compelled to cope up with the situation.
Heller, who is a veteran filmmaker, has made films for the last 40 years. “For forty years, I have been making films on Africa- our neighbouring continent, searching, observing and analysing its connections and relations,” Peter Heller, of ‘Sweet Poison’ told The New Times.
Another scene in the movie that demonstrate the orgies of aid.
“I felt that as most African countries have had 50 years of independence, what the progress has been made so far-especially as most of them receive foreign aid?” he posed.
The film’s premiere comes in at a time when Rwanda is currently embroiled in a tussle with powerful Western nations over ‘Foreign Aid’.
“I was very satisfied with the strong reactions people expressed after its screening. I didn’t expect people to welcome and appreciate it that way,” he added.
The filmmaker is expected to begin the promotional tour of his film promotional tour throughout his native Germany in November, alongside Mohammed Gueye, one of the commentators in the film.
Official Trailer “Süsses Gift”, Peter Heller (german):
Source: ANDREW ISRAEL KAZIBWE, 27 OCTOBER 2012, The New Times, allAfrica.com
Annette Uwizeye is a Rwandan filmmaker who has made several short films and commercials and opens a platform to encourage young women to venture into various fields.
The founder of ‘A WIZE Films’ production company, Annette Uwizeye, is one of the few women working in Rwanda’s nascent film industry. The South Africa-educated 31-year-old discovered her passion for the arts while pursuing a degree in Auditing and Accounting at the University of South Africa.
In an interview with Women Today, the eloquent and open-minded Annette narrates how she switched from a career that many consider ‘safe’, to embrace her true passion.
“My dad is an accountant by profession. One would think that numbers come naturally in my family but in my final year, I struggled and wasn’t really focused. I asked myself if I could settle as an auditor because my family thought it was the most promising career. I repeated my final year three times due to retakes and eventually my dad decided to transfer me to another school. It was either that, or think things through back at home,” the Kenyan-born narrates.
“I was drawn to the art but was not sure on whether to do theatre or film. I’m glad that Rwanda Cinema Centre opened doors for me. I had to take a course in film but wasn’t sure whether my dad would pay for it. But there was something in me that would just not let go. I applied to a film school in South Africa and fortunately, after the interview I was accepted,” she explains.
“One thing that cemented my desire to change career direction was taking a trip down memory lane. I was just six years old and a lady saw me drawing and sketching funny things and when she asked me what I wanted to be when I grow up, easily, I said I wanted to be an artist. Paulo Coelho’s book The Alchemist, says that as you grow up, the child in you has the purest sense of what you ought to be,” she reveals.
She further said you should always look back into your childhood because it holds the answer to who you are and what you want to be.
“Things don’t happen by coincidence, once you identify your path and purpose in life, things fall into place. For example, a typo in my admission letter to film school indicating tuition fees for a year was only R7000 an approximate $1000, this easily prompted my family to once again sponsor my tuition for a film degree, but 6 months later we discovered that everyone else was paying R17,000 – the first digit had been omitted and there was no turning back,” She narrates.
She has written, directed and produced several projects in South Africa and Rwanda. Other than co-producing the award- winning TV show, the M-Net Edit (Emerging Dynamics in Television) 2010 competition, she has also produced many of the MTN Rwanda commercials that aired last year.
She is currently working on a film called ‘Uwera’,due to be released next year.
On the subject of overcoming challenges she said, “There is this term called servant leadership. In leading teams, you inspire individuals to achieve the best and maintain a level of professionalism. You lead a team not to dominate but to collaborate. We also make sure that we pay people fairly and on time. These are things I have come to learn and appreciate just by observing my role models.”
This year, she founded A WIZE Films and partnered with Moukhtar Omar Sibomana, who is also passionate about film.
“At A WIZE Films, we describe ourselves as ‘story-mongers’. We are here to trade stories. Our slogan is, “Bring the World to Rwanda and take Rwanda to the World.” Our aim is to create entertaining and heartening content for film and television. I believe film is a tool for inspiring change, mirrors society and cultural exchange,” Annette explains.
The filmmaker advised women to embrace their true calling.
“It’s okay to be scared; we all get scared at some point. Through my journey, I hesitated at times but you need to trust that if you’re in the right path, things will work out, so have some faith. Acknowledge your talent and passion because no one will do it for you; one baby step at a time,” Annette adds.
She also said that women in Rwanda, who have succeeded in different fields, need to tell their story to inspire others.
“A platform showcasing women achievers would really encourage young women to venture into various fields. Women need to believe that they can do anything, not just in business but life in general,” she explains.
The funny and outgoing filmmaker is still single but to sweep her off her feet, candidates need to have at least five qualities.
“He should be God fearing, family oriented, passionate about what he does, a Rwandan, and taller than 5ft 11 inches,” she laughs.
Anette Uwizeye: Show Reel (Youtube video)
Source: DOREEN UMUTESI, 25 OCTOBER 2012, The New Times, allAfrica.com