kwetu film institute

KWETU is the home that brings value to our faces, voices and future film prospects through the dynamic of the creative force.

Two KFI Alumni speaks out

Sky is the limit for Yves Gahinde

Gahinde will be remembered as the guy who directed and acted in his debut film ‘Charcoal’ while studying at KWETU Film Institute. He is currently studying his bachelor’s in India. Apollo Ndungutse caught up with him during his vacation in Kigali Rwanda. Below are excerpts of what transpired in the discussion.

RFF: Tell us who you are and what you know about Hillywood

YVES: My name is Yves Gahinde. I was in KWETU Film Institute two years ago. I am excited and happy to be part of hilly wood. Many international people participate in hillywood and this gives hope to our future film industry.

RFF: I understand you are a filmmaker tell me how far have you gone into this industry?

YVES: I have gained a lot of experiences and skills from the time I joined hillywood. I directed a short movie titled “Charcoal” about unity and reconciliation after 1994 Genocide. Many people like it. I have improved my knowledge and skills and I am now getting even better in digital film making.

RFF: Whowhat inspired you into film making industry?

YVES: I liked films when I was a little boy. I heard an advertisement on radio from Rwanda Cinema Center calling people to attend a film making course and I thought it prudent to attend. This was mainly because I had this burning passion for film and I wanted to develop my talent.

RFF: Where do you see yourself in seven years from now?

YVES: Seven years from now, I see myself among the high profile world film producers. I am looking forward to it.

RFF: Tell us how film making can affect your relationship with people both negatively and positively.

YVES: Negatively, I don’t have enough time to spend with my friends and family but on the other side of the coin; I have huge opportunity to meet many important people with whom I would share knowledge and skills that is vital in my desire to be a professional producer.

RFF: How do you think film making can promote sustainable development?

YVES: I think the young generation can join film making which presents many fresh business ideas that can provide employment opportunities which promotes sustainable development.

RFF: What piece of advice do you give to upcoming filmmakers?

YVES: Filmmaking is a good industry with a lot of money even if it is hard to reach success; it is possible to a willing heart. They have to be patient.

It’s all set for KWIZERA to Professionalize his Filmmaking Art

Alfred KWIZERA is an upcoming filmmaker, actor and gospel musician. The hillywood campaign team caught up with him in Kigali. First the team wanted to know if he was familiar with hillywood.

KWIZERA: My name is KWIZERA Alfred aged 23. I am an upcoming filmmaker, actor and gospel artist. To me Hillywood is the best thing to happen to Rwanda. The organization’s mandate is to nurture young talents in art. This helps the young people to support themselves and also contribute in Rwandan growing economy.

RFF: I understand you’re a filmmaker. How far have you gone into this industry?

KWIZERA: I worked in “Kezarella” in the production and as a music composer. I have also directed and produced my own music video “ibagirwa ibyahise” and “Humura shuti”.

RFF: Who or what inspired you into film making business?

KWIZERA: I like John Sinner movies and he influenced me to watch many films and despite that I have got a talent.

RFF: Where do you see yourself in seven years from now?

KWIZERA: I am preparing to go for his Bachelors’ degree of Film production in India. I will by that
time become a super star in film and music industry.

RFF: Can you tell us how film making can influence your relationship with people both negatively and positively?

KWIZERA: If you act in a film as a bad guy people who don’t understand film making will not like it but if you act as a good guy, everyone is going to like you!

RFF: How do you think film making can promote sustainable development?

KWIZERA: Film is a big business where people can keep investing because it is very encouraging and interesting venture every business person can enjoy.

RFF: What piece of advice do you give to upcoming filmmakers?

KWIZERA: Number one, they have to be patient. Film does not happen so quickly and anyhow. Two, they have to listen and learn and three, they have to believe in themselves that they can do something.


International Mentor's Message to KFI Students…

To the Students of the KWETU Film Institute

Film has always been one of the most wonderful ways for people to tell their stories. When filmmakers learn how best to combine image and sound, character and story, theme and technique, they are able to reach their audiences hearts and minds in powerful and lasting ways.

The great thing today – as you begin your studies – is that new technology has made it easier for more people to make professional-looking films. But with that ease comes a heightened responsibility: to learn the nature of cinema, to study the masters to learn their techniques and to keep your sights set on the highest standards of quality and truth-telling as possible.

Congratulations on being the very first class of this wonderful new institute.

Yours truly,

Phil Alden Robinson
After writing the Steve Martin comedy “All of Me” (1984), Robinson combined his writing and directing talents on the comedy “In the Mood” (1987). His next writer-director effort, “Field of Dreams” (1989), earned three Oscar nominations, including Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture. He went on to co-write and direct “Sneakers” (1992) and the TV movie “Freedom Song” (2000), about the Civil Rights Movement. His other directing credits include Part One of the HBO miniseries “Band of Brothers” (2001) and the feature “The Sum of All Fears” (2002).

Jon Turteltaub
What an amazing adventure you are all about to begin. To study film is to study life… the life of the people around you… and the life you yourself are living. Who are you?
What are you bringing to Kwetu? What do you bring to the movies you make? What makes your movies different from everyone else’s? What do you see, what do you know, what do you understand that needs to be shared with the rest of us? When you become filmmakers, the answers to these questions will hopefully be known to you.
You are going to study technology, history, art, cinema, drama, politics, and language.

No one of these things is enough to make you a filmmaker. It is the understanding of all of them… their relationship to one another, and their relationship to you, the artist, that will make you into a filmmaker.
Americans and Europeans have been making films for almost one hundred years.
Watching those movies is absolutely necessary for you to learn the fundamentals of filmmaking. But in those one hundred years, Hollywood and the others have said most of the things that they have to say. And they have said them over and over again. Now it’s your turn. Tell the world who you are through your films. Share your perspectives on life through your films. Educate the world through your films.

I encourage you to be humble in your education, but bold in your vision. I encourage you to listen carefully to those who came before you, and speak forcefully to those who will one day listen to you.
Be bold. Be brave. And work hard. There has never been a successful filmmaker who was also a lazy filmmaker. You have to love it to be good at it… and if you give 100% of yourself you are going to love it.

Here’s to you!
Jon Turteltaub
Director of “Cool Runnings”, “While You Were Sleeping”,
“Phenomenon”, “National Treasure” and “National Treasure 2”.


This is a great day, which many hoped for and some feared would never come. A Rwanda film school, an African film institute in his own building.
Four years ago when I first came to teach you, the students were lodged in a sort of sublet to the technical institute, where hard skills, such as metal and engineering was taught. Some of you around Eric Kabera felt that the art of filmmaking and all the audio-visual disciplines of the latest technological revolution deserved their own academy.

At first a movie theatre was planned, rapidly it grew into a building to educate students, to install all the necessary equipment and to reunite professors and students under one roof. When rain started to fall, I was happy to provide means for a roof and a septic tank, for artistes, too, have basic needs.

I was enthusiastic and proud to be part of your adventure. Whenever in the
last years I came to see you, I tried to teach you one thing only. It’s not about using this or that technical skills, it’s not about going to international festivals. Your one and only aim should be to tell your own stories to your own people. Whether your films are seen in the local barbershop, at a coffee shop, on a bed sheet in the open night or in a theatre, all you have to do is to address your own audience, tell them about their own experiences and their own hopes. You dont have to imitate anybody, you dont have to learn from anybody. Just do it in your own way and you will reinvent a new language of film.

Wish I could be there.



Audrey Arkins

To the Freshman Students of the Kwetu Film Institute,

Welcome to the first day of an exciting, lifelong adventure in film. It used to be that filmmaking was too expensive a luxury for most of us – but today it’s said that anyone with a good imagination and a cell phone can shoot their story and broadcast it on youtube instantly. There is a little truth in that, but in my experience, good filmmaking has far less to do with imagination than people think. What looks effortless and natural in all the successful feature films we love, is invariably the result of incredibly hard work – plotting character and story first on the page, then collaborating with so many other film professionals to bring the story to life on the screen. So use your time at Kwetu to listen and master these complex crafts. Arm yourself with the tools and training that separates the amateurs from the professionals. No matter what the subject, no matter what the budget, no matter what the venue, no matter what the language, a great film, one that is well written and ably executed with quality production values, will always be discovered. Film is one of those things that the world just cannot get enough of. I look forward to seeing all of yours.

Audrey Arkins

Roberta Levitow

Dear Eric and all the Students at the Opening Day of the Kwetu Institute,

Congratulations on this momentous day!

I’m so sorry to hear that your director and our friend Eric Kabera must stay in London for medical treatment and cannot join you.
I wish that I could be there myself to join in the celebration.

You are beginning your studies in a very important work. You will record the stories and the document the lives of the Rwandan people, the people of East Africa, the peoples of the African continent and beyond. And you will, by making your films, share these stories and these lives at home and around the world.

All of us here at Sundance Institute East Africa wish you the very best.

We look forward to seeing your films soon!

Warm regards,

Roberta Levitow, Artistic Associate, Sundance Institute East Africa

Jane Kagon

Dear Entering Students,

From California, a land far away, but really closer than you think, I send you congratulatory greetings as you enter your new home — not just the Kwetu Film Institute, but your new dwelling within the most exciting, creative global community in the world. With the skills and training you will gain at Kwetu, you will become a member of a privileged international family: a family of storytellers and media makers; film artists and entrepreneurs. You will, through the power and magic of filmmaking, have the opportunity to make our world a better place. So best of luck. We’re counting on you. Welcome home.

Jane Kagon is currently an international media and education consultant. a Senior Fellow at the University of Southern California Annenberg School’s Center for the Digital Future. Previously she was the director of the the professional continuing education entertainment division at UCLA and a long term Hollywood industry production executive and entertainment attorney.

Ed Greenberg

Greeting to the Members of Kwetu Film Institute Community –
I am very happy to share, if not in person, then certainly in spirit, the excitement of the opening of Kwetu Film Institute. You are privileged to be present at a historic moment for Rwanda. You are the artists who will help Rwanda move even more quickly into the bright future that is becoming a reality in your beautiful country, a country that I grew to love in my short time there.
As the saying goes, “Keep Your Eyes On The Prize.” Make movies and television, and videos that reflect the best of who you are as individuals, as artists, and as citizens of Rwanda, Africa and the entire world. Good luck in all of your efforts. Have fun! And be sure to make some comedies as well as dramas. CONGRATULATIONS!
Very best wishes,

Ed Greenberg
Executive Director Laughter for a Change, Comedy Mentor in Rwanda, 2007
Edward Greenberg
Executive Director
Laughter For A Change

Joel Karekezi Joins Kwetu Mentorship

The management of KFI is pleased to bring on board ‘Maisha Film lab’ Alumni to reinforce the screenwriting department. Joel brings to the team invaluable experience that is cleverly demonstrated through successful production of his latest feature film ‘The Pardon’ currently in post.



KAREKEZI Joel, in 2008 got a Diploma certificate in film directing (CINECOURS from Quebec in CANADA: In 2009 he attended Maisha film lab in screenwriting and after the course he directed his short film THE PARDON, which won THE GOLDEN IMPALA AWARD at AMAKULA FILM FESTIVAL in UGANDA. In 2009 it screened at Kenya International film festival, and in 2010 it screened at Zanzibar International film festival, Durban International film festival, Images that matter short film festival in Ethiopia, and Silicon Valley African Film Festival in California where it won THE 2010 BEST SHORT FILM AWARD. In 2010 he participated in THE BERLINALE TALENT CAMPUS in Germany.
I was working with Columbia University and Maisha Film Lab Mentorship on my feature script THE PARDON from April-October 2010.
In May 2011, I was part of mentors during the MAISHA FILM LAB here in RWANDA.
I am starting my production company in Rwanda (KAREKEZI FILM PRODUCTION) with the purpose of making good African films which will be shown all over the world and for worldwide distribution.
Recently I won an award at FILMMART 2011 to participate into THE ROTTERDAM LAB 2012 and I am in post-production of my feature film THE PARDON, you can watch the trailer on this link:

– 2009: THE PARDON (Writer & Director13 Minutes)
– 2010-2011: Writer & Director of the feature film THE PARDON
– 2010: Worked on the story of a feature script 30 EGGS by EOIN J.O’CONNOR
– 2011: MOTJ written by JOEL KAREKEZI & CASEY SCHROEN, a feature script based in Congo
– 2010: NTUKAZIME NARAROKOTSE (Writer, Director and Producer)
– 2010: SURVIVOR (Writer, Director and Producer)
– 2009: LES JEUNES A LA POURSUITES DU TRAVAIL (Writer, Director and Producer)

Founder's Message to students

Eric Kabera is the founder of the KWETU Film Institute. He was conspicuously absent at the opening ceremony. while speaking on phone that was relayed to the students, Eric had this to say “Today is the first day of the first tv, art and film school in Rwanda. the KWETU Film Institute, and I am SO disappointed not to be with you in person. Every single moment of this opening has been playing on my mind and although it is most upsetting for me to be a few thousand miles away from you, I am delighted that today has arrived at last and that you have enrolled and are now committed to jump on board this magnificent ship of dreams, aspirations and creativity.

This is a place which will not only be for learning but also be an important place for cultural exchange with the rest of the world.

Thank you once again to the team of Kwetu film institute, pastor alice my dear wife, and kids all of whom have put up with the pressure of this heavy project, my team Fabrice, jack,Venuste,joseph, appolo Patrick, Jojo, ghislain, gilain and all the others who have worked for days and nights to see this day happen.

Of course, the big thank you goes to our bank brd who have trust in us by investing in this creative industry. Thank you jack, Bosco and all others at Brd.

A huge support and endorsement from the academy of motion picture arts and science, is making all the difference, Our team from hollywood, have given us the curriculum for our institute, and this is a huge input for which we give them many thanks.

Thanks also to the visiting mentors and supporters such as Monica and Philip Rosenthal who have provided the space for the theater which is under construction, Jon turtelataub, Volker, Sida, UNDP the government of rwanda through the ministry of youth sports and culture, wda and the many who have shown interest in working with the institute. They are all hugely thanked on this very special day.

As you can see this is not a place for education alone, but this is your home. We have rooms for those coming from outside rwanda and those in rwanda who need to have a restful and comfortable evening in the creative space of art and cinema. For each one of you out there who wants to be part of this cultural and creative industry in rwanda, we say Karibu to the Kwetu film institute, which in english means welcome to kwetu.

I hope to be well enough to travel this Friday and so I shall see you in 5 days time. Meanwhile you must look after our precious yellow building.

Thank you so much, one and all”.

Eric Kabera

Rhineland Palatinate delegation visit KWETU in their Rwandan tour

On Saturday the management of KWETU Film Institute, located in Nyarutarama, hosted 23 members of a German delegation from the province of Rhineland Palatinate. They toured the institute during their country visit to developmental programs that they support in education, health and energy. Relations between Rwanda and Rhineland Palatinate dates back to1982.

Speaking at the KWETU Film Institute, the head of the delegation, who is also the minister of Local Government, Sports and infrastructure Roger LEWENTZ said this year, they are visiting projects related to trade, education and technical cooperation in a bid to ensure that, the partnership is reciprocated in the Rhineland Palatinate. He could not hide his joy for their tour in the country “Today marks the final trip in Rwanda. On behalf of the prime minister, we have a lot of impressions to continue and look into the future on what we can do together. Filmmaking, media and journalism are among the fields of interest” he said.

The climax of their visit at KWETU was the screening of a moving Rwandan documentary film, Intiryali Iherezo directed by Valens Habarugira. The film follows the life of Claude Uwamahoro who despite losing his legs during the 1994 genocide can still put food on the table for his wife and three children. The end of the half hour film was met by a thunderous applause from the members of delegation. Immediately after the credit roll, Roger expressed his commitment to acquire 200 copies of the film to be screened in various schools in the Rhineland Palatinate.

Eric Kabera, the founder of KWETU Film Institute explained that the institute is more than a film school “KWETU is an incubator not only for students learning the technical know how about filmmaking, but in addition, we have introduced a department of languages that would involve German language”. He appealed for the cooperation to consider having a German teacher at the film school in the future, even if for an hour daily.

The visit was well received by students fraternity “The presence of the delegation gives us confident that filmmaking is universally acceptable” Pascaline, the student leader said. She recounted how she struggled to convince her parents that she wanted to pursue filmmaking. “At first my mum told me that she could not sit and watch me act with men in bed. She told me that it was against Rwandan culture for girls to pursue filmmaking”