Hollywood delegation to visit Rwanda’s hillywood festival this July!

A group of Hollywood filmmakers traveled to Iran recently on a mission of cultural exchange as part of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ International Outreach Committee. AMPAS as the Academy is commonly known, is a professional honorary organization that is dedicated to the advancement of the arts and sciences of motion pictures. Writes Joseph Njata.

The Academy is composed of over 6,000 motion picture professionals. While the great majority of its members are based in the United States, membership is open to qualified filmmakers around the world.

The Academy is known around the world for its annual Academy Awards, informally known as the “Oscars”. In addition, the Academy gives Student Academy Awards annually to filmmakers at the undergraduate and graduate level; awards up to five Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting annually; and operates the Margaret Herrick Library (at the Fairbanks Center for Motion Picture Study) in Beverly Hills, California and the Pickford Center for Motion Picture Study in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California.

The journey to Iran was colorful, adventurous, surprising, and exotic as any of their famous 1940s “Road” movies, although admittedly their purpose was a bit more serious than those long-gone ambassadors of entertainment. As the first Western group of artists to be invited to the Islamic Republic of Iran since the revolution there exactly thirty years ago, Academy president and producer Sid Ganis, actresses Annette Bening and Alfre Woodard, writer/directors Frank Pierson and Phil Robinson, producers Tom Pollock and nomadic documentary filmmaker James Longley, were guests of the House of Cinema (or Khaneh Cinema), and put on a series of screenings and seminars for their members with questions and answers about the art and craft and business of filmmaking.

A similar visit by the members of Academy of Motion Picture to Rwanda is scheduled in July this year. The delegation will visit Rwanda following a humble invitation by Mr. Eric Kabera, a renowned Rwanda Filmmaker (100 days, Keepers of Memory) and founder of the Rwanda Cinema Centre. Eric is currently in Los Angeles where he is writing his next film and working on partnerships for the KWETU Film Institute (KFI) – a film school that is intended to be a center of academic excellence for exploring new kinds of communication, cultural expression, and regional civic engagement. Through cinematic education and training, including programs in film, television and mobile, as well as supporting programs in the performing arts, KFI will provide East Africa with a holistic, sustainable and internationally recognized media training facility.
Starting in 2011 and for the next five years, KFI expects to enroll approximately two thousand students who will be exposed to all the important aspects of cinematic media creation. With practitioner instructors, experts in various fields of media, KFI will offer professional, hands on media training programs founded upon solid academic criterion. The two key overarching goals of KFI are firstly to focus on developing the media literacy skills of individual participants and secondly to contribute to the cultural and economic cohesiveness of the East African Community of the five nations of Kenya, Tanzania, Burundi, Uganda and Rwanda.

KFI strives in preparing individual participants to compete and succeed in the 21st century global economy. In today’s globalized, digitalized world, media is a key driver. KFI students will develop the core competencies to become media literate – to not only understand the effects and power of media, but to also develop the skill-sets to create and use cinematic media in all its forms. Trained as storytellers at KFI, KFI graduates, using visual media as their tools, will have the opportunity to contribute real world value to virtually every field in the global economy.

While in Rwanda, the filmmakers will grace the official launch of KWETU Film Institute slated for 18th July, 2011. The mentors will offer master classes to both new and former filmmaking students at the institute. The group will also attend the 7th edition of Rwanda Film Festival event which will kicks off on 16th July through 30th July, 2011 among other activities.

While in Iran, they had a great opportunity to talk with their Iranian peers about the problems of personal versus commercial storytelling, insufficient budgets, scarce financing, intransigent directors or overindulged stars, studio interference and competition for screens. Government censorship in Iran is very real and privately frustrating for many of the filmmakers they encountered.

Narrating their Iran experience, the US based filmmakers found that most people there were quite surprised to meet them, but perhaps not more surprised than Frank and Phil, who thought of the trip years ago. Their impulse to reach out and extend the Academy’s mission overseas by promoting the idea of filmmakers talking to established and emerging cultures of cinema around the world was the genesis of the international outreach program. What seemed impossible nine months earlier was suddenly a reality. The group is now even more excited to visit the land of a thousand hills and a million smiles.
The writer is the admin Assistant of KWETU film institute and press officer of the Rwanda Film Festival. njattah@yahoo.com


5 Responses to “Hollywood delegation to visit Rwanda’s hillywood festival this July!”

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