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.

2012 Rwanda Film Festival dates unveiled!

The 8th edition of the Rwanda Film Festival will be held from Sunday 15th – 27th July 2012. The festival’s theme is “my Voice, My face, My soul, My Identity”. While unveiling the festival dates, Eric Kabera, the festival’s chairman said that RFF is looking for films from all over the world that reflects this theme elements.

“Our mandate for this 2012 is to explore deeply this theme using the cinematic power as we bring different images from different parts of the world to really empower our sense of seeing, feeling and belonging as citizens of this planet earth as human being with all what surrounds us

We want to explore other places, spaces, civilization and cultures so we can find the commonality of our own identity as human being of this small planet we all live in despite the challenges of famine, conflicts, recession and uncertainties surrounding this 21st century. The hope is that, we are still here and we have the brain and power to change things and see things differently despite it all!

Welcome aboard and looking forward to see the faces you captured, the Voices you recorded and the soul that is inside in order to depict our identity as citizen of the world! ”Talk to us”

Hillywood from Sunday July 15 to July 19th

Kigali Film Festival from Friday 20th to July 27th

For the last seven years, the RFF provided new and experienced film makers from around the world an opportunity to showcase their work, interact with other aspiring film makers and network among industry professionals and African celebrities.

RFF is now accepting film submissions through March 20th, 2012. Click on the following link to download the application form Film submission form


Tips on Developing Character

Writes Alexander Ikawah
Slightly over a week ago I got a chance to spend some time on the other side of an audition floor and despite being involved in TV and Film productions before, I realized that I have never really watched actors auditioning from such a perspective. Being in that position allowed me to observe several unique and, I believe, important insights into actor behaviors and alas, some actor misconceptions. But I digress, the audition came after a very interesting class by Neil Schell about ‘character’ and how actors can understand the concept and use this understanding to interpret their roles. And that is what this blog post is about:


Though meanings of words vary from use to use depending on circumstance, intention and context. It is likely your understanding of ‘character’ in relation to its use within film, is closely related to one or all of the following meanings:
– The Mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual
– The quality of being individual, typically in an interesting or unusual way
– Strength and originality in a person’s nature
– A person in a novel, play, or movie
– A part played by an actor

The word’s ancient precursor is the Latin term kharakter which referred to ‘a stamping tool’ similar to the unique seals used in early times to identify and distinguish families and institutions. Ostensibly, character is supposed to distinguish one person from another and in this particular instance, one actor from the other.

In the arts, a ‘character’ can be referred to as ‘the representation of a person in a narrative work of art such as a novel, play, or film’. This is why the phrase ‘in character’ is used to refer to an effective impersonation by an actor. Most local actors’ understanding of character is restricted to the meaning of the word in relation to its use in literature and rarely do they think of it in relation to themselves and who they are outside of the theater, or the set.

However, actors would add much more value to their careers by applying a more wholesome understanding of the concept of character. This is because their own personal identity is just as important, if not more important, than their understanding of the character they are required to portray in a narrative. If a character in a script had a template requirement for his/her portrayal then any actor would be able to play that role provided they met the physical requirements. It is of absolute importance that an actor learn his own individual character and every aspect of it in order for them to be able to apply this individuality to the roles they audition for. Simply put; the only difference between you and every other actor who has the same experience and levels of proficiency as your own, is who you are.

If you can not bring who you are to every role you play, there is hardly any reason for any director to consider you for a role.

You would think this is easy and should not be a problem at all. In fact you would think this is supposed to be a default reaction. But it isn’t easy, especially if you consider that it entails drawing from one’s own emotions and experiences instead of creating imaginary ones. For example, a scene in which your character feels the pain of losing a loved one would probably be played by recalling such an experience from your own life. If you have actually lost a loved one before, then the scene will remind you starkly of your own real pain and that is not an experience many people are willing to go through for the sake of a role.

The world’s best actors are all individuals who have developed a unique way of applying their personal character traits and experiences to the narrative characters they portray and this is exactly what every actor must endeavor to achieve. As Neil Schell puts it, “If you disregard your uniqueness and creativity and try to show a character, you will be forcing something onto your audience that lacks the depth of your uniqueness… It is therefore vital that you know what your uniqueness is and your strength so you can market what you have. You will be easier to cast and directors and producers will know what you bring to roles.”

Aristotle perhaps explained it best in his ‘Poetics’ where he describes character not as denoting a fictional person from a narrative work, but as ‘the quality of the person acting in the story and reacting to its situations. He says, “…the actors do not act in order to represent the characters, but they include the characters for the sake of their actions”. Subsequently, what every director looks for (or at least ought to look for) in an audition, and in every actor s/he meets, is not the ‘character’ from a story, but the ‘character’ in the actor that would best compliment one from the story; the one whose interpretation of the role will be unique, interesting, and most importantly, desirable for a particular production.


I’ll offer you by far the easiest way to begin your journey to understanding your character as an actor and to making this understanding work for your career. The thing to do is to specialize. If you are just starting to build your career, learning what kind of roles you play best and making yourself better at them is the best way to begin landing more jobs. The idea that you’re capable of succeeding at any and all roles you may be required to play is romantic but a bit over-ambitious.

Even worse, it makes it difficult to market you as an actor. If you perform best as a nerd/thug/prostitute then don’t fight it. Be the best nerd/thug/prostitute there is and in time, everyone will be ready(perhaps even eager) to see you try other kinds of roles. Think of Ainea Ojiambo locally; Now there is one person who almost always plays an evil devious character. But the key word is always, which means he always gets the part. That’s because everyone knows he’s good at it. Now, like me, most people are curious to see him play a different kind of role. Preferably one where he’s the nicest and most innocent character in the story and I hope he’s eager for the challenge too.

In more developed settings like Hollywood, casting agencies in conjunction with agents and directors make sure that the only actors the director gets to see are the most suited for the role in terms of experience, physical requirements, and suitability. Suitability, as we all know, is a function of specialization. This underscores the need for East African actors to identify and develop their specific strengths as actors because as the local TV and film industry grows, the current model of public auditions will become increasingly less viable and producers will opt more and more to use casting agencies as is done internationally.

And casting agencies will only be able to forward your name and contacts to a director if they know what roles you are suitable for. In fact, it is of great importance that local actors seriously consider joining a casting agency. But why don’t I let you hear it from a couple of local producers


Rwandan Artists speak their hearts out!

“I believe that Africa United movie lived up to it’s expectations!” – Francis Iraguha

Rwanda film festival (RFF) campaign team caught up with Francis Iraguha during the editing of his latest project ‘Inzozi’ a film that he has a leading role. The following are excerpts of what transpired in the discussion.

RFF: Tell us briefly about yourself and your contribution to the entertainment industry in Rwanda?.
FRANCIS: My name is Francis Iraguha. I am an actor, traditional fashion designer. I am now creating new images of traditional costume known as ‘imikenyero’, I am also a bill board model.

RFF: What do you know about hillywood?

FRANCIS: My first time experience with hillywood was in the production of the genocide film, 100 days. I wanted to act but unfortunately I was by then too young. I met Eric KABERA during the filming of ‘some times in april’ but. was not selected during casting. however worked behind the camera in the production of that movie.

RFF: What is the role of film to a country like Rwanda?

FRANCIS: I think film helps Rwandans learn and shape their History. Secondly, film can be used to ensure peaceful co-existence between different ethnic groups. Thirdly, film reminds Rwandans of their past, present and where they will be in the future. You see that plays a major role in development because film industry provide jobs.

RFF: Where do you see hillywood in seven years from today?

FRANCIS: To answer this we’ve got to see where hillywood was before, where it is today and I think in seven years it will be a huge industry in Africa and beyond.

RFF: What is your favorite hillywood movie and why?
FRANCIS: Africa United is my favorite movie because Eric KABERA worked with real professional filmmakers to produce this film. According to me, it was professionally done.

RFF: If an upcoming filmmaker approaches you to taking part in his or her movie, what would be your response?
FRANCIS: I would give a big ‘yes’ 100% because I love being in film.

RFF: What impact do you think Rwanda Film Festival is creating to Rwanda?
FRANCIS: I am sure it is going to make a difference. The face of Rwanda is going to be changed through the festival and I believe this is going to motivate foreign and local investment and put Rwanda on the world map.

“I am the best actress in Rwanda!’’ Mary speaks out of her passion in acting.

Mary has just starred in her latest film ‘Inzozi” a film that is currently in post. For her, it’s a story of confidence and vision.

RFF: Tell us briefly about yourself and your contribution to the entertainment industry in Rwanda?.

FRANCE: My name is Mary France Niragire. I believe I am the number one Rwandan film actress. I am a traditional dancer. I have acted in “Rudasanzwe‘. I didn’t ask for payment because I have a burning passion to support filmmaking in Rwanda.

RFF: What do you know about hillywood?
FRANCE: It is a brand new filmmaking organization that exposes local talents to the world of cinema.

RFF: What is the role of film in a country’s economy?

FRANCE: Film is educative and creates employment opportunities. All this plays a big role to a country’s development. It has a ripple effect that eventually booms the national economy.

RFF: Where do you see hillywood in seven years from today?

FRANCE: I swear hillywood is going to outsmart both Nollywood and Bollywood in seven years from now. Just give it time. Man, if you see the quality of the images for our latest film “Inzozi’ where I am the main actress, you can tell that hillywood is heading somewhere.

RFF: What is your favorite Rwandan movie and why?

FRANCE:Inzozi” I did what I thought I could not do. I think there is no actress in Africa who can do what I did. Others use substances to induce tears but my tears were real. I cried! Others use substances like onions but I did it naturally!.

RFF: If an upcoming filmmaker approached you for taking part in his or her movie, what would be your response?
FRANCE: It depends with the filmmaker intentions and the type of film. If it is for education I can act free of charge but if it’s for business, I would ask for money. I would also love to be a millionaire! Who hates money anyway?

RFF: What Impact do you think Rwanda film festival has to Rwanda as a country?

FRANCE: Film is educative and gives Rwandan confidence and hope and that changes the negative perception that some people have on Rwanda.

RFF: Thank you France for your time.

FRANCE: You’re welcome!

Ruth NIRERE Shanel

Tell us briefly about yourself

Huun,I find it hard to talk about my self…
My name is Ruth NIRERE Shanel,I am an artist as singer;songwritter and actress.
My first appearance on the screen was in 1998 as a singer and I started acting professionally in 2008 as the leading character in Le jour où Dieu est parti en voyage(The Day God Walked Away) by Philippe Van Leeuw, since its release in 2009,I have been blessed with three(3) Best Actress Awards at The Thessaloniki International Film Festival 2009;The Bratislava International Film Festival 2009 and The Kenya International Film festival 2010. I acted in The long Coat by Edouard BAMPORIKI in 2009 and Grey Matter by Kivu RUHORAHOZA which is premiering during this 7th edition of Rwanda Film Festival 2011.

Have you ever heard about Hillywood? If so tell us where and how?

SHANEL: Ofcourse I have! It was at The Rwanda Cinema Center,when they called me to be apart of a documentary film about Women.

What do you think about film industry in Rwanda?

SHANEL: I think it is growing and I am very happy about the efforts and energy that our talented filmmakers;actors are putting in the film industry regardless of all obstacles such as lack of financial means,good equipments and sometimes not be able to find experienced people in cinematography techniques.
A team of film makers is coming from hollywood to open a film school in Rwanda.Tell us your personal opinion how this is going to impact film making in Rwanda.

SHANEL: First of all it is a relieve! It is a privilege that this is happening in the presence of a team of filmmakers from the best film industry in the world! It is a dream come true for all dreamers in making films in Rwanda and I would like to thank Eric Kabera and the whole team behind for making this happen.
By the greatness of God some of us were born with golden talents and I believe this another opportunity sent from heaven to help us improve and it is a door opened to everyone who wants and have been longing to learn about filmmaking. Having a film school in Rwanda we gonna be able to develop our skills and ability which will help us to reach and to be on international standards.

Tell us your best film and why?

SHANEL: My favorite movie is: Le jour où Dieu est parti en voyage by Philippe Van Leew,and it is not because I am in it but because the director managed to reveal what was happens beyond the killings the fear of dying for no reason ,trauma,pain…. He managed to portray put on the screen the worse and terrible feelings a human being can go through.

If an upcoming Local film maker requested you to act in his are her film what would be your response?

SHANEL: It would depend on how I agree with the content and believe in the script, and the conditions and terms of working with the filmmaker.

Lastly what message do you have for the audience being a big figure in the field of arts and culture?.

SHANEL: A big figure! I am flattered,thank you!
I would like to tell the audience that above the financial means,all we need the most is understanding,recognition and respect of what we do in the field of arts and culture.
I would like to thank the audience and everyone who is and has been faithfull to us,and personally and I can strongly say generaly that I thank Positive Production(Kigali-Rwanda) for its implication and determination for supporting arts and culture all along.

Acclaimed Photographer give classes at KWETU

During the last one week, Los Angeles based photographer gave classes to students at the KWETU Film Institute. Mr. Paul Nzalamba classes were quite inspiring. Buoyed by his two decades of experience in the field, his selected ‘verbs’ on the field dominated his lectures. He set the ball rolling by displaying a number of equipments in his ‘trade’.

He professionally gave an illustration on how to calibrate the camera settings to get quality pictures. Students seized the rare moment by having their hands on his rare gadgets.

Mr. Nzalamba was formerly a fine artist but later ventured into photography. This, he explained enabled him express himself and his country well. He put more emphases on the old saying that ‘a photo is worth a thousand words’. Time and again, he said this was not far from the truth.

Nzalamba did not acquire his skills on a silver platter; he had to go back to the classroom, his age notwithstanding. It was while in the photography school that his skills were honed. He argued that, we are equally endowed with working brain and nothing should stand between us and success.

“You are as good as anybody because people’s brain are not different “he inspired students. After a thorough illustration, he photographed students and members of KWETU administration, an exercise that took him more than an hour. This practically explained how patient a photographer should be to capture quality pictures. The group photo taken will be processed in Los Angeles upon his return as studios in Rwanda didn’t have the needed capacity to process his photos.

The theory classes did not disappoint either. He encouraged students who harbored photography dreams to soldier on and believe in themselves. He noted that it was hard to draw a line between filmmaking and photography as both are strong medium in passing information.

He encouraged students to study their home countries, cultures, legends and customs because they are a haven of stories to tell the world.
NZALAMBA requested aspiring filmmakers to portray their communities well and avoid what he termed as ‘propagandist photography’. He noted that while in Iraq, Americans did not show the dead US soldiers as it is unethical.
“Before you take a photograph of a child, think of that child as yours. You cannot take a photo of your child with a running nose, would you? “He challenged students. He used the Congo example. “Not everything about DRC is bad. There are good stories in Congo as well” he charged.

Students expressed reservations on the sky rocketing prices of equipments. To counter this, he advised them to use simple and affordable ones and use them professionally. He illustrated the camera on phones as a perfect example where artistic people use to tell their stories.

The class leader thanked Mr. Nzalamba on behalf of the class and said that his lectures will last them a lifetime.

Mr. Nzalamba is currently working on his project titled “Photographing Rwanda”. .