Rwanda film industry Hillywood is now looking forward to partnering with Nigeria film, Nollywood as a backbone for selling the Rwandan story to other competitive film industries on the continent.
A number of Rwandan film actors are currently undergoing facilitated training on different film production processes and techniques with the help of Victor Okhai, a seasoned Nigerian producer, scriptwriter, director and film consultant.
This training was part of “Strengthening the Cultural and Creative Industries in Rwanda”, a project supported by UNESCO and Korean Funds-In-Trust, in partnership with the Ministry of Sports and Culture in Rwanda.
Okhai who is also a Director of the International Film and Broadcast Academy in Lagos, Nigeria, was in the country last week He told KT Press that Rwanda has the biggest untapped potential that can sell in the film industry.
Currently Rwanda film industry is majorly driven by comedy content, and less action movies that can sell in the region and continent despite the immense talent and unique stories, beautiful scenes and culture in the country.
“I see myself as a coach of ‘Team Rwanda’ and I have come here to shape the next generation of film makers. Rwandans have good skills but lack confidence. In order to turn this around we started with giving them skills,” he said.
In order to materialize these skills, Okhai said that there is going to be a lot of collaboration between the two countries and especially in partnerships where Rwandan talents can synergized with talent in Nigeria.
“If we have the backing of government we can get actors from here to work with Nigerian, Ghana or South African films which will increase the GDP of the country as it has worked out for NollyWood,” Okhai stated.
Rwanda film industry has over 5000 registered film actors in the federation and though there are many film projects produced online, only two television drama series (Seburikoko and City Maid) remain the most popular but locally.
To prove that team Rwanda has talent which can sell better content Okhai helped the trained film makers to produce a two minute short impactful film “Unknown” within three hours which featured Rwandan actress Aime Magnfique Nyirarukundo.
The film, about a single mother living in an abandoned house structure lost her child to an unknown intruder when she had gone out to win the bread, leaves the viewer in suspense.
“If we are able to make the shortest film in the shortest record time ever, this means that with collaboration Rwandans should start with what they have and know it’s okay to make mistakes but move on,” Okhai said.
This assurance sound like music for Maxim Rindiro who joined the local film industry 2015 as an actor without any previous skills training and but passion for film has pushed him to start private film production on comedy and human rights content.
Rindiro explains that there is a challenge to produce the action content because it’s expensive but Rwanda has subjects that can be fully explored in tourism, culture and politics to tell the Rwandan story.
“There is potential stories to sell globally like the Kwita Izina developed to be the next Tarzan, Kingkong movie. We also have beautiful ladies and landscape and special culture that people are interested in knowing but can be explored,” Rindiro said.
To ensure this, a one year $115,000 project “Strengthening the Cultural and Creative Industries in Rwanda” supported by UNESCO and Korean Funds-In-Trust, is underway according to Prudence Uwabakurikiza, a Consultant Project Manager at Ishyo art centre.
The project is intended to help improve quality of 100 existing script writers, actors, cinematographers, producers and directors plus music production and management, theatre production and visual Arts curatorship.
“Since 2018 the project worked with actors in 15 districts, developing a training program in priority gaps in areas of theatre production, and so far 77 have been trained but we intend to finish with skills creative entrepreneurship, advocacy for funding and partnerships among others,” Uwabakurikiza said.
Uwabakurikiza noted that these skills will enable Rwandans to compete equally and feature in international and global films.