18 December 2012

Rwanda: Movie-Making Life Is Unpredictable

At only 21 years of age, the sky is the limit for little known movie writer and actress Tina Umutesi. In the past three years, she has written, produced and released two movies.

Umutesi got the passion for acting while still in secondary school, and she attributes it to her teacher and mentor, an English woman whose name she can only remember as Jesse, who taught her pupils not only how to write scripts but also act. "She got us to practice writing short stories meant for theatre, most of which were centered on sensitizing people about Aids, malaria prevention, domestic violence etc. That is how I got the passion for acting."

She wrote and produced her first movie in 2010, titled 'Ubuzima Nigatebe Katooke' (Life is unpredictable). The movie, and its title, was inspired by her personal experience, because when she grew up she had no idea about what she wanted to become. "I tried singing while in school because all my friends were doing it, but in the end I realized that it was not my thing, and so I settled for something that came natural to me."

Umutesi's latest movie, 'Umurage' (Heritage), deals with incest, and it is also inspired by things she sees around her. "It's an evil that is splitting families and affecting society at large," she says.

The fresh student at Mt. Kenya University says the film industry in Rwanda is still young, and that there are many challenges. "Much as I love what I do, it is not easy because I literally do everything singlehandedly: I write my movies ,produce them and then I have to run around getting actors and cameramen, considering I do not have that much money as yet."

Nevertheless, she has about a year ago set up her own company, Dynamic Film Production, and although she admits it's a struggle to find funding, she hopes that by mid next year she will be fully established. "I'm looking for cameramen and a professional director so that we can not only make our own movies, but those of others as well. And I would like the company to become a training ground for aspiring actors and actresses, especially young people."

Her advice to those who want to venture into the film industry is that they must love what they do and be confident. "Film is not something easy, stage freight is the first thing you must and have to get rid of; otherwise you won't succeed."

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