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Power in Constraints workshop - Remove all the rules

Power in Constraints workshop
Goethe Institut

“We are introduced to cinema as something with rules”, says Philbert Aimé Mbabazi (*1990) and explains that “the main thing we are doing here, is to remove all the rules.” He and his fellow filmmaker, Samuel Ishimwe (*1991), are currently mentoring eight young Rwandan scriptwriters in a film-workshop named “Power in Constraints” at the Goethe-Institut Kigali, in which they are working on the possibilities of Independent Filmmaking.

By Ingo Eisenbeiß

Ishimwe, who won a Silver Bear for his short movie “Imfura” at the Berlinale 2018, explains that “it is about sharing our experience with someone, who is in the same situation as we are”.  Both participated themselves in a lot of workshops, but mostly with teachers from the US and Europe, “who would share an experience, in which we don’t see ourselves in”.

For that reason, they decided to take action and put themselves in the role of the mentor. In the two-week workshop, they aim to show what are the challenges in filmmaking in Rwanda but more importantly to overcome them and “use them as a strength”, as Mbabazi puts it.

Philbert Mbabazi, who was awarded with the grand prize of the city of Oberhausen at the International Short Film Festival in 2019 for his short movie “I Got My Things and Left”, explains the two major constraints for making films in Rwanda: “It is maybe the most expensive art and also we don’t have a tradition of making films.”  

But, as the workshop title implicates, power lies in those constraints. To make low budget films in Rwanda, one has “to use real locations, to use non-actors and to base your story on something real”, which, as Mbabazis says, gives you the opportunity “to make films with so much freedom”.

In the first week, the two mentors introduced the young scriptwriters to the theoretical fundament of filmmaking and figured out, which two scripts should be produced in the second week of the workshop. “So what we did was that everyone met with a mentor in one-on-one meetings, to discuss and challenge their ideas”, says Samuel Ishimwe, “because one of the things we are trying to do, is to help each and every one on his personal level, to find their individual voice.”

Both produced films premiered at the Goethe-Institut Kigali on January 28 at 18.30. Both films were recently honored and prized at various international film festivals.