3 December 2012

Rwanda: Behind the World Voted Best GBV Film

IT beat off stiff competition from three other emotion-provoking short-films to emerge the best Rwandan film on Gender Based Violence (GBV) during a gala night to mark the start of the Film Week against gender violence.

The movie gala premier at Lemigo Hotel was well attended. The New Times/Courtesy.

Marie Clémentine Dusabijambo's 'Behind the World' brushed off a challenge from 'Strength in Fear' directed by Ella Mutuyimana, 'Out of Status' by Yves Montand Niyongabo and 'Bad Protector' directed by Derrick Ruzindana to win the Audience Award.

The 25-year-old's short-film based on the character of 'Colette', a young girl who grew up in a village and won a scholarship to an urban school, but fails to fit in properly because English and French are the only languages spoken at the school.

Collete (acted by Didacienne Nibagwire) endures difficult times as the other students taunt her and, to make it worse, the language teacher, who had all along been humiliating her, attempts to harass her sexually.

In her battle to learn the foreign languages, Collette desperately tries to memorise the whole dictionary while at the same time she puts up with the bullying and taunting from her fellow students.

Though the short film was touching a much lighter subject of language compared to the other three which mainly dwelt on sexual violence such as rape, it managed to win because the panel of judges considered many more aspects other than the subject matter.

"Beyond the script, we also look at other factors such as lighting, cutting, consistency, camera positioning and the set," said Georges Kamanayo, a prominent Paris-based, French-Rwandan film director, who was on the panel of judges.

Kamanayo said that Dusabijambo's short film met just all the criteria and beat the other three even when it appeared that the ones that lost out indeed addressed very sensitive and touching subjects.

The veteran film director, however, was impressed by the potential of emerging and young film talent in Rwanda, pointing out that given the facilities and resources, film industry in Rwanda would blossom in a few years time.

Dusabijambo, a graduate of Engineering in Electronics, who among other benefits walked away with a cash prize of 1, 000 Euros, said that her short film was inspired by the day-to-day experiences of young girls in a chauvinistic society.

"We live in a world where girls are laughed at and taunted for not doing something right, especially by boys. It happens all the time and sometimes this suffering goes untold," said the aspiring filmmaker whose first job, Lyiza, a short film made in 2010 featured at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2012.

Dusabijambo, who works with Almond Tree Films, said that her win encouraged her to continue with her dream in the film industry - to use her talent to address real life issues, despite the challenges the industry still encounters.

"We are still struggling in the area of post-production and on resources. It is also difficult for a girl like me in the film industry; the society has a certain perception about us: What is a girl doing in cinema?" says Dusabijambo.

The young filmmaker reckons that there are a lot of stories to tell in Rwanda and that the government should put aside a budget to support filmmakers because it is also one way to tell the story of Rwanda.

One of the other films that entered the competition is 'Strength in Fear, a very touching short film about a young girl (Isekere) who was born with HIV/AIDS, battles stigma from her schoolmates, and is also ostracised by her teachers, but she perseveres through, even when her mother is on her deathbed.

'Out of Status' is also a touching story of two young women who, for the first time, sit in front of cameras to tell their rape ordeals and the resulting pregnancies as well as stigma from society.

'Bad Protector', by Derrick Ruzindana, is a short film about the challenges faced by girls as they attempt to pursue education but end up being sexually used by the same people who should be protecting them.

According to Dr Peter Stepan, Director of Goethe-Institut, one of the organisers, there were about 50 entries when the announcement was made in May.

"I am surprised by the work of the young filmmakers in terms of quality - the post-production work done. The lighting, the cameras and everything; of course there are certain challenges and weaknesses but, in general, we are very happy with the outcome," Dr Stepan told The New Times.

The audience voted for the best movie after the screening of the four movies at Lemigo Hotel on Friday evening.

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