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Power in Constraints - Premiere of two Rwandan short films

Breaking Ground by Ines Girihirwe
Breaking Ground by Ines Girihirwe | (c) Ines Girihirwe

Even the torrential rain, which paralysed life in Kigali all day long, could not prevent the city's film fans from gathering at the Goethe-Institut that evening. Already half an hour before the screening began, not a single seat was free, and the chairs provided were immediately occupied. Standing, crowded into the entrance, even looking through the windows from outside, people waited anxiously for the premiere of two Rwandan short films.

By Ingo Eisenbeiß

As part of the "Power in Constraints" workshop, the two award-winning directors Samuel Ishimwe and Philbert-Aimé Mbabazi acted as mentors for eight up-and-coming young Rwandan filmmakers* for two weeks of theoretical and practical support. "The idea was to show how to make good films with the smallest means," explains Ishimwe shortly before the screening of the first film.

In cooperation with the Goethe-Institut, the Swiss Cooperation and the Rwanda Arts Initiative, the aim was to give young talents the opportunity to produce their own films: "We know that there are great stories out there that want to be told and we are very much looking forward to seeing them right away," says Goethe-Institut director Katharina Hey. The Swiss Cooperation underlined the great importance of cultural production for its mission in development cooperation.

In addition to the financial resources, one of the greatest challenges for the two production teams of the films, which at the same time lend them their special aura, were the time and the cast: both Fish Bowl by Ngabo Wa Ganza and Breaking Ground by Ines Girihirwe were shot in just one day and edited and subtitled in four days, including that of the screening. They also worked with amateur actors only. Due to partly raw and unpolished impressions the two works possessed extremely expressive moments.

For example, in Ines Girihirwe's short film Breaking Ground, the inner conflict of the protagonist, who suffers domestic violence, was cinematically strongly staged by a parallel montage: The overboiling milk on the stove when she is looks at the ignorant man is showing her anger. But instead of making it easy and letting the anger erupt, the scene is broken - the man turns off the stove.

Also in Ngabo Wa Ganzas film Fish Bowl, the narrative occasion was a tragic one: the viewer follows the protagonist in the midst of the mourning for his deceased mother. One observes how he finds himself in a situation of conflicting emotions: On the one hand, sadness, and on the other, the emerging love for a friend. Particularly impressive is a long scene in which the protagonist and his friend slowly get closer and finally kiss - but also here the filmmaker does not make it easy for himself. Instead of violin music there is a knocking at the door and embarrassment spreads.

Created in the shortest possible time and with minimal means, the two short films (once again) show the great potential of the young Rwandan film scene. One can thus gladly endorse the words of Philbert-Aimé Mbabazi: "We very much hope that something will develop from this and that we will hear more and more voices from Rwanda in the coming years".

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