Posts Tagged ‘europe’
It’s been a long ride. When I left Mexico City at the end of April, I landed in New York. After a brief two weeks there, I was on my way to Nairobi, Kenya. At one point during my four weeks in Kenya, I went to Naivasha, a town in Kenya’s Rift Valley. A few days after I got back, I went to Kampala, Uganda, where I stayed for a week and wished it was longer.
When that week ended, it was time to return to New York. So I boarded a plane that took me from Entebbe, Uganda to Sharjah, United Arab Emirates with a layover in Nairobi. Upon disembarking in Sharjah, I took a bus and cab to the airport in Dubai, where I then had a flight to New York — with a layover in Moscow (yes I know I went further away from my destination, often the lure of price wins). Some observations from this timeline:
1) Hanging in the Dubai airport with a charming, interesting Zimbabwean man and two cranky but funny Nigerian women who ordered me to move from my seat (along with a hilarious Congolese man who kept substituting French for English) — I almost didn’t want to leave for my departure lounge. Almost.
2) Being held by a Russian customs woman who didn’t believe my American passport was real (all the extra pages and African visas!).
3) The deep luxury of the United Arab Emirates embodied to me by the fluffy white caftans of the men and the ornate, almost gaudy royal buildings, juxtaposed with the cold shabbiness of the Moscow airport, which was made complete by a designated smoking stand where Russians huddled, puffing silently.
And now, I am finally settling for a good, long while in New York. Unexpectedly, the idea of staying in one place is very appealing.
Photo by Richard Mosse
In East Africa, it’s the Indians. In West Africa, it’s the Lebanese. Communities of long-time immigrants who have made Africa their home, but who have tenuous, strained relationships with their fellow residents. They often prosper, owning several businesses, homes, hotels, even corporations — and they employ Nigerians, Liberians, Ugandans, Kenyans and other native Africans to work for them while helping to fuel along fragile economies.
An OK agreement for all, it would seem, but things are never that easy. Black Africans complain of mistreatment and disrespect from these immigrants: in fact, when you ask a Liberian or Kenyan about a Lebanese or Indian, the reaction is usually mocking and full of distaste, and sometimes vitriolic. Many Lebanese and Indians, however, say that they genuinely harbor no ill will towards black Africans and even consider themselves Africans.
When the resentment towards these immigrants builds, it can turn deadly very quickly, as it did the day I witnessed a bloody protest in Uganda. The day echoed former Ugandan dictator Idi Amin’s expelling of Indian-Ugandans a few decades ago. I wonder what’s next for these tension-filled relationships.
Kivu Ruhorahoza is a young gifted filmmaker who delivers stirring, haunting images even with the lowest of budgets. His last film, Confession, was made for only $350. The short was scheduled to play at the Africala Film Festival here in Mexico City, but its run was cut due to swine flu hysteria. As a survivor of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, he brings a fresh sensibility to his films that are unavoidably tinged with the story of Rwanda’s past. But the charismatic director still has fun with his work, too.
Here Daddy talks about his current work, his creative process and his artistic aspirations.
Tell us about the film, Confession, that was scheduled to play at the Africala Film Festival.
Confession is a 15-minute film about the theme of forgiveness. In my film, I ask: Who should the criminal ask forgiveness to? My main character in the movie feels that he did something wrong. And he knows that what he did got even worse because of a context of war and Genocide. Because he is a Catholic, he goes to a confessional. In my country where over 80% were Catholic before the Genocide, I think there must be some people at least who, instead of admitting their crimes in courts, went to confessionals to be in peace with themselves. For me, that is cowardice. But it is a confirmation to me that every criminal has some humanity left in himself. I am absolutely convinced that every criminal thinks he/she owes something to the victim and humanity in general. That is why I made my character go ask for forgiveness, writing on toilet walls. But I insist that I don’t have sympathy for rapists…
Watch him talk about Confession:
Do you find that a lot of your work has dealt with the aftermath of the genocide? What is it like to try to mix creativity in the form of film with such a horrific reality? Do people in Rwanda support your work and generally want to be involved with it, in terms of acting, producing, etc.?
The Tutsi Genocide became a reference point for every Rwandan. Even in popular language in Rwanda, people say “before or after” the war. War meaning the Genocide. Things were never the same after the Genocide. For the survivors, the perpetrators and their families and the soldiers who fought the war.
Even if I make a comedy about sexual behaviors in Kigali, the Genocide would be in the background because of how much it changed every Rwandan. There are life changing experiences for individuals like the loss of someone, a marriage, etc. But for a population, a genocide is absolutely a mark in the destiny of a population. From August 1994, people started realizing what had happened. They started digesting their anger, sorrow, disbelief. If the Genocide becomes the main source of my inspiration I would be losing the battle of survival because the first thing to do is to survive. To move on.
It is definitely hard to do any creative work on such an important topic. I don’t think that creativity has to rhyme with sincerity. Being creative is also about distorting realities, looking at things from a different point of view that is not necessary. I try as much as I can to avoid getting artistic satisfaction or success from other people’s pain. But it is obviously impossible and that is why I don’t think that I will ever be in peace with myself doing what I chose to do: film.
Many Rwandans are interested in my work. Some of them would be very happy to support me but let’s face it there are so many priorities other than making a film. Even those who have the means to support me have tens of cousins, aunts, brothers who cannot even afford to buy aspirin… But luckily, I’m moving towards a more professional kind of environment. Young aspiring film professionals have so far been very nice to me. They seem to like my experimental approach to my filmmaking and it is a good sign that people are open to other ways of expression.
While in the Rwandan capital Kigali, I was struck by how many artists, musicians and writers I met. Do you think the arts scene there is growing more than ever and helping to foster a supportive environment for filmmaking?
Unfortunately, I don’t think so! In a country where there are no formal training facilities, you can only learn by watching. But in Rwanda we have one TV channel and not a single proper cinema. There are definitely tens of video clubs where you can watch the last blockbuster but I don’t think you can learn from watching Quantum of Solace. Access to good art can motivate the aspiring artists in Rwanda. But we don’t even have a single public library or a proper music venue in Kigali. All the good intentions in the world cannot replace formal training or access to good arts.
So, we still have a long way to go. But I should acknowledge the efforts of the Rwanda Cinema Centre who organize trainings and a film festival where Rwandans can watch other type of films rather than Hollywood, Hong Kong and Bollywood movies. The Ministry of Culture also is making efforts to have a film commission in place.
We are at a beginning of something and that is positive.
Can you tell us about how you got started in filmmaking and the types of films you have done? What places and subjects have interested you most?
I started as a production assistant, sort of runner who was doing everything that I was asked to do in the office of Rwandan producer Eric Kabera. That was early 2004. Then I went on quickly to become production manager on some of his documentaries and I started writing a lot. I have always wanted to become a writer and I saw some movies that made me decide that filmmaking was what I wanted to do. One of them is L’Ennui by French filmmaker Cédric Kahn.
I have been doing different kind of films. I am only working on my first feature now but I made some shorts about redemption and forgiveness, sexual freedom, creativity and madness, musical documentary, living in a poor country when you are not, … In my opinion, anything can be a subject for a movie. I don’t think I will ever make a film to educate, inform or sensitize. I’m not in a mission. For me, filmmaking is a selfish thing. I do what I like and what I want. Every script starts with a note in a diary or any other piece of paper. So, every script for me starts from something that is related to my mood, feeling, etc. That is why I think that I can work on any subject as long as it is appealing to me.
You sometimes act in your own films, such as in Lost in the South. How do you bridge the balance between directing and performing on the same project?
Each time I’ve done it is because I couldn’t find an actor! I’m not a big fan of acting in my films but I don’t have much choice sometimes. I lose a bit of control when I’m trying to be on both sides of the camera. I prefer being behind the camera and directing.
Photo via The Mail & Guardian
“Smuggling season” has begun, U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres said this week.
300 Africans from all over the continent were feared to have drowned on an illegal passage from Libya to Italy — 100 bodies have been found — and their perilous journey to an ideally better life is duplicated all over the world.
From over 60 Africans who have drowned in the Gulf of Aden after traffickers pushed them overboard to the 550 Muslims fleeing Myanmar who are believed to be dead after they were allegedly set adrift in boats towed out to sea by Thai forces, human smuggling has become the problem that won’t go away.
It’s not just Mexicans following coyotes across the border, it’s the smuggling of Haitian and Cuban migrants to Florida and the Dominican Republic (even to the Bahamas), it’s the smuggling of Indonesian migrants to Australia, it’s the smuggling of Guatemalans, Salvadorans, Nicaraguans and Hondurans to Mexico, all who have a significant chance of not surviving along the way.
The pursuit of happiness is a tricky one if you’re living in a lowly-developed, conflict-stricken country. And often a dangerous one if you decide to leave your home. But if you were in their situations, what wouldn’t you do?
Photo via The Boston Globe