Sunday, July 17, 2011

Celebrating Africa in Hillywood

Tonight (July 17, 2011) I attended a reception hosted by the US Embassy’s Deputy Chief of Mission.  The reception was for the US Film Industry. I did not want to go because I thought it was going to be so boring, but I am glad that I went I met a lot of cool people from the US and Rwandan film industry.

The Rwanda Cinema Centre was founded 7 years ago to promote films in Rwanda. The majority of people living in Rwanda have never even seen a television let along a movie. In the seventh year they are finally beginning to see the real fruits of their labor of love. The founder of the centre Eric Kabera has been working tireless for years in the United Kingdom and America.  For the last few years they have been hosting the Rwanda Film Festival, but this year is really special because there will be films from Rwanda, South Africa, Kenya and some other countries. The reason this is really great is because the distribution of films in Africa is really poor. Most African filmmakers don’t have a way to allow others to see their films besides giving them away. They also don’t even know when each other make films. The Rwanda Cinema Centre is working really hard to build a network so they can help promote each other’s work. Therefore, the theme of this year’s festival is “Celebrating Africa in Hillywood.” I had a very interesting conversation with the director of the Rwanda Cinema Centre , Pierre Kayitana.

This Saturday July 23, 2011, the Kwetu Film Institute will open its doors in Kigali, Rwanda. There is an already estimated 500 people from East Africa that are seeking admission into the Institute. As I stated earlier the reception was for the US Film Industry. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences (the people that put on the Academy Award/Oscars) heard about Eric Kabera and Hillywood through a short film on the internet about 3 years ago. So their International Outreach Committee is in the country to provide workshops in Script writing, film editing, cinematography, sound mixing, production, etc.

The irony of all this ---- there is not one movie theater in the country of Rwanda. However, the work to develop a film industry in Rwanda will be one more way to improve the economy here. There are plans underway to build a movie theatre and you can believe the day it opens I will be there.  

So now on to the really cool people that I met. Of course you know I already talked with Eric Kabera and his wife Alice (a very nice couple). I met Cleophas Kabasiita, she is a Rwanda film actress staring in film entitled “Kinyarwandan” which won a Sundance Film award and was nominated for a 2011 Oscar; it will be in theaters this November --- make sure ya’ll go out and support the movie. I met Edward a Rwandan film maker who won an award at last year’s Canne Film Festival. Philippe had the “honor” of attending this year’s Tribeca Film Festival. A film maker named Christian Gakombe I met actually said he would like to make a documentary on the work that I am doing here.  I met Phil Robinson who directed the movie “Field of Dreams” starring Kevin Costner, Willie Burton (a sound mixer), Wynn Thomas (a production designer), Carol Littlejohn (a film editor) and Stephanie Allain a producer. She told me she is producing a movie with Tyler Perry. The director of the film they are producing is the young lady who wrote the screenplay for “Drumline.” The most amazing person that I met was the actor Alfre Woodard, star of such films as Miss Firecracker, Down in the Delta, Crooklyn, Love and Basketball and The Family that Preys Together. I really did not have an opportunity to say more than hello because she was really there to talk with the Rwandans who are trying to make a living in the film industry but I was still grateful for the opportunity to say hello and shake her hand.  

So! for an event that I did not want to attend, it turned out to be a great evening. I will try to post a blog on any of the films that I will attend.


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