Rwanda Film Institute, The Vision.

RCC was founded by Eric Kabera. Rwanda Cinema Centre from time of inception has founded two important operations directed to improving film and new media in Rwanda. This is the Rwanda international film festival ”Hillywood” that has initiated the For youth by youth program, Film for change outreach project and now gradually developing the Rwanda Film Institute, an institution that is poised to be  training  more than two hundred students per year as we prepare them to embark on  choosing a department for a diploma level which will start in 2010 within the complex under construction of the Rwanda Education and Entertainment Centre that would host the Institute and its multiplex 2 screens cinema. Yearly through the youth for youth program and workshops that we deliver, we had produced over 100  students  who are now practitioners in the film business into the market today . These developments strive at building the filmmaking and new media ground and also provide important outlets for students seeking to gain experience in filmmaking, the Reason for the Rwanda Film Institute. Since these humble beginnings, the Rwanda Cinema Centre has grown in size and stature over the last 10 years to become one of the upcoming and leading filmmaking centre in east and Central Africa and especially the Great lakes region. Currently, the Centre is the creative point for the youth, technical and administrative staff that currently benefit from the collaboration workshops and filmmaking initiatives. The Rwanda Film Institute  is staged to offer both certificates and Diplomas and in future affiliated degrees. Our vision for our program utilizes our institution mission statement as a foundation, while augmenting the overall strategic initiatives related to the planned institute Academic Plan. RFI  is poised for further growth and transition as we move forward over the next five years with a number of exciting initiatives and opportunities with our partners.


6 Responses to “Rwanda Film Institute, The Vision.”

  1. April 13, 2009 at 3:18 pm

    n Gacuriro, a tidy suburb of condos and subdivisions on the fringes of central Kigali, Pierre Kayitana leans forwards, adjust his cuffs, and taps a message into his mobile phone. This is the busiest month of a busy calendar year for Pierre, upon whose wrinkled brow fall headaches big and small for the Rwanda Cinema Centre. The fourth annual Rwanda Film Festival kicks off this Sunday with Hillywood – a week-long, mobile extravaganza showing films on inflatable screens around the country – and Pierre’s phone busily rings and beeps. A to-do list scrawled across four sheets of A-4 paper is taped to the wall; beneath the word “URGENT!” – capped, underlined, written in electric blue – are 34 separate reminders to call sponsors, email NGOs, and dole out press passes and invites. Yet Pierre himself, a mild, composed twenty-something, seems to be taking everything in stride. He arranges a stack of VHS cassettes on the corner of his desk and asks about my time in Rwanda, strumming his long, elegant fingers with unnerving grace.

    He makes me feel – in my dirty sneakers and natty convertible pants – like a total scrub. But a set of modest press credentials are
    The hills of Kigali.
    on my side: I have written, once, for The Washington Post – a paper of great repute. I represent, in whatever scruffy capacity, access to the great untapped media markets of the West. And for this reason alone Pierre Kayitana has invited me into his immaculate office, sat with me among the shelves of film history and theory, the bulging binders, the four-volume set of the Berkshire World Encyclopedia, ignored his phone for the better part of the past hour, and offered me a crash course in the brief history of Rwandan cinema.

    It doesn’t take long; after all, the first Rwandan feature film, 100 Days, wasn’t made until the late-1990s – long before Don Cheadle and his vague, pan-African accent spoke to the world in Hotel Rwanda, but long after the West had developed its own cinematic language and traditions. By the time 100 Days was filmed in 1997 (and later released in 2001), aspiring American filmmakers had already devoured a steady diet of Chaplin, Hitchcock, Welles – not to mention later heavyweights like Scorcese and Tarantino.

    “Even before the genocide, we did not have entertainments,” says Pierre, turning his empty palms up to the sky.
    Site of the new Rwanda Cinema Centre.
    When Eric Kabera – a Congo-born, London-educated filmmaker – paired with the BBC veteran Nick Hughes to film 100 Days, they were working more within the Western traditions they’d inherited than within a particular Rwandan form.

    “You have to understand that in Rwanda, we do not have a film culture,” says Pierre. “What Eric wanted to do was create that culture here.” First, through films like 100 Days and Keepers of Memory, and later, with initiatives like the Rwanda Cinema Centre and the Rwanda Film Festival, he hoped to bring the language of cinema to a wide audience.

    The early challenges faced by Kabera and his colleagues were great. There was no infrastructure in place for filmmakers. When Western media arrived to shoot stories in Rwanda, they came with crews a hundred strong. “We had no one with the technical training they needed,” Pierre explains. No cameramen, no grips, no burly guys named Bruce who could coil 100 yards of extension cord around their biceps. “They could not even say to a Rwandan, ‘Hand me that camera. Pass me the boom.’ People did not know what a camera or a boom was.”

    Given the hurdles they had
    to overcome, the progress made by the Cinema Centre in the past four years has been remarkable. Today there are dozens of cameramen, editors, production managers, and trained technicians working in Rwanda. A program in collaboration with the Swedish Institute was inaugurated in November 2007, offering training to young Rwandan filmmakers. And Pierre is reaching out to film schools in New York and Los Angeles, with plans to introduce an exchange program for film students in Kigali. Eventually, he hopes that the Cinema Centre will grow to become a major cultural force in the region, attracting talent from Congo, Burundi, Uganda and beyond.

    “There is a lot of work to be done,” he admits, looking warily toward the lengthy to-do list on the wall. An assistant raps on the door and creeps in, shooting Pierre a look of utter panic. Again the phone begins to vibrate angrily on the desk.

    In its accomplishments as well as its aspirations, the Cinema Centre is a fair reflection of where Rwanda stands today. (Or as President Paul Kagame said at the 2007 Tribeca Film Festival, where Rwandan filmmakers were well-received: “The story of Rwandan film is essentially the story of Rwanda itself.”) The country’s recent boom has created opportunities that were unthinkable just five years ago. There’s more room for business ventures, more capital to tap into. Just two years ago, Gacuriro was a scruffy, impoverished suburb of Kigali. Today it’s a sprawling, upscale community of gated homes, tapping into much of Rwanda’s newfound wealth. New houses are rapidly being built to accommodate the growing demand. Eric Kabera, who lives with his family in Gacuriro, says the waiting list is nearly two years long.

    The walk back to central Kigali hugs the golf course, where I stop to watch several figures shuffle tinily around a distant tee. Suddenly stillness: seconds later, the ping of iron striking ball, and the small bodies – hunched beneath their bags – walking wearily up the sloping fairway. The hills fronting the golf course are prime real estate, crowned by massive, white-washed villas that sit with regal aplomb over the greens. More houses are being built, and hordes of workers busy themselves adjusting the sconces and tidying the lawns and running lengths of cable through the windows.

    Further down, by the 17th hole, I pass a dozen bare-chested boys playing in murky swamps beside the fairway. Muscular women – their bright skirts and headscarves dazzling in the sunlight – work a rusty water pump, carrying their jerry cans through the reeds and trudging barefoot along the side of the road. Evening is falling. Motos putter through the golden late-day light; crowded taxis-voutures whisk the work-day crowds back to their homes in the hills. Outside a small storefront cinema, a group of young boys crane their necks to read the titles scrawled across a dusty chalkboard. Strike Commandos. Ninja Condor 13. The boys kick and karate-chop each other on the sidewalk, pop imaginary guns into the air.

    If the guys at the Cinema Centre want to create a film culture here in Rwanda, they’ve got a long, bumpy road ahead.

    March 21, 2010 at 4:11 pm


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