By Moses Opobo
All is set for the Rwanda Film Festival to be held in Kigali, with screenings scheduled in different parts of the country.
This year’s festival will take place from September 15-21, under the theme of “Heritage”.
It is the 14th edition of the weeklong action packed festival, which is organised annually by the Kwetu Film Institute, the leading film school in the country.
Also known as Hillywood, the festival seeks to promote local and global awareness, appreciation and understanding of the nascent film industry in Rwanda.
Every year, the festival kicks off with an invites-only opening gala in Kigali, at which the full programme for the festival is officially announced.
Screenings are staged at select venues in Kigali and, as part of the festival’s Travelling Theater initiative, or ‘cinema to the people’, at various upcountry locations as well.
According to Eric Kabera, the festival founder, the upcountry screenings serve not only an artistic, but also a moral purpose. He explains that most of the people that turn up for the upcountry outdoor screenings are usually seeing a film by local filmmakers and actors for the first time.
This year, in line with the theme of Heritage, some of the film screenings will be staged by Lake Kivu in Rubavu District, Western Province.
“This year, one of our advisory boards from the Oscars suggested to have our film festival moved by the lake, and now we are getting to take the movies there by the beach, the heritage of the Great Lakes region,” revealed Eric Kabera.
Commenting on the theme of Heritage, Kabera described cinema as “the most powerful weapon used to preserve and share a heritage, be it cultural or traditional.
“Cinema provides us with the power to understand, explore and build our own identities. Through cinema, we are able to see and understand what Africa was like in the independence struggle in the 60s, and what the world looked like after the two World Wars, what our ancestors did to survive when there was no car, airplanes or all the other commodities we have today. We cross through generations, to reshape and understand our past, build our present while we foresee our future.”
“New generations are built through what they inherit from their fore fathers. The stories we tell today, and how we tell them will shape the future of our children, their children, and many generations to come.”
The festival will further explore the link between cinema and heritage, with screenings of films from across the African continent and the African diaspora communities around the world. These will be complimented by an international selection of films that explore the heritage of different nations across the globe.
“Our rich and varied cultural heritage has a profound power to help build our nation. When Nelson Mandela said those words during a speech, he was referring to his nation of South Africa, but this is something that we can shape through the entire world.
“Learning to understand and embrace our differences by looking at our varied heritages is a weapon that we can use to connect and bring all of us together,” Kabera added.