Kinyarwanda

Kinyarwanda

A scene from KINYARWANDA, a film by Alrick Brown. Picture courtesy of AFFRM. All rights reserved.

Kinyarwanda

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Kinyarwanda (2011)

Opened: 12/02/2011 Limited

Limited12/02/2011
Music Hall 312/02/2011 - 12/15/201114 days
AMC Empire 2512/02/2011 - 12/15/201114 days
Playhouse 712/02/2011 - 12/08/20117 days
Town Center 512/02/2011 - 12/08/20117 days
Downtown Indep...12/23/2011 - 12/29/20117 days
DVD05/15/2012

Trailer: Click for trailer

Websites: Home, Facebook, Twitter

Genre: Drama (In English, Kinyardwanda w/English subtitles)

Rated: Unrated

Synopsis

During the 1994 Rwandan genocide, the Mufti of Rwanda, the most respected Muslim leader in the country, issued a fatwa forbidding Muslims from participating in the killing of the Tutsi. As the country became a slaughterhouse, mosques became places of refuge where Muslims and Christians, Hutus and Tutsis came together to protect each other. KINYARWANDA is based on true accounts from survivors who took refuge at the Grand Mosque of Kigali and the Imams who opened their doors to give refuge to the Tutsi and to those Hutu who refused to participate in the killing. Told from the perspective of six characters, we follow the young lovers, the child, the couple, the soldiers, the Imam, and the priest as they are swept up by the chaos of the world around them.

About the Film

KINYARWANDA is the first feature film about the Rwandan Genocide produced, conceived and financed by Rwandan artists. The film is based on true accounts from survivors of the 1994 Rwandan Genocide taken from interviews conducted by the film's Rwandan born executive producer Ishmael Ntihabose. Interweaving six different tales together, KINYARWANDA presents the most complex and real depiction yet of human resilience and life during the country's genocide.

The film's writer/director Alrick Brown found additional inspiration for the story from individuals represented in the Genocide Museum in Kigali as well as from the film's Rwandan cast and crew members. "These stories were so bizarre, intense, beautiful, touching, inspiring and painful that I had to write," says Brown, "I knew immediately what was going into the script." The film's title itself, KINYARWANDA, is the name of the distinct and shared language of Rwandans. "I did not know that the Hutus and Tutsis shared the same language. It was a simple fact not mentioned in other films, press, etc. Kinyarwanda is a unifying word," says Brown.

KINYARWANDA was shot in one of the most beautiful countries, Rwanda, which literally means "Land of a Thousand Hills." Production took place during grasshopper mating season, rainy season, with about 1,000 extras, limited equipment and a sixteen day shooting schedule. The hardest part, however, about making this film was the emotional impact the scenes had on all of the cast and crew, particularly the Rwandans struggling with their own memories. For American actress Cassandra Freeman, the role of Lt. Rose was worlds apart from her previous work in Chris Rock's I THINK I LOVE MY WIFE and Spike Lee's INSIDE MAN.

Instead of delving into the politics associated with the 1994 Genocide, KINYARWANDA emphasizes the people. While other films portraying genocide show violence, corpses, and death, KINYARWANDA emphasizes life and genocide is a tragic backdrop for very familiar human experiences. Telling this story through the perspective of multiple characters shows that in the midst of such tragic events something beautiful can still be found. Because forgiveness, truth and reconciliation are such a huge part of Rwanda's journey, it is also an important part of this film.

Director's Statement

In 1994, I was a senior in high school. Aside from a few mentions on the news, I was oblivious to what was going on in Rwanda. In the short span of one hundred days, about one million people lost their lives. Years later, when I learned more of the realities of what had happened, I was ashamed and angry that I had not been better informed.

When I arrived in Rwanda in 2009 to work with genocide survivor and filmmaker Ishmael Ntihabose, it quickly became apparent that everyone in that country was directly affected by this tragic moment in their history. I also realized quickly that everyone had a story to tell. And each story of terror, survival, salvation, faith and love was more magnificent and bizarre than the one that preceded it. As I familiarized myself with Ishmael's research and sat down and listened to mothers, friends, sons, daughters, politicians, elders, and veterans alike, the framework for the film KINYARWANDA was built.

Rwanda is a land that is woven of these stories, and in order to capture the truth of what happened in that country I had to rely on and deeply respect the voices of the everyday people who lived through these events. The six stories that I ultimately focused on represent a sampling of the entire population's experience. I used the voices of a few to tell the story of many. I used the chaos of war to solidify the structure and an intimate telling of real people's stories to humanize an otherwise overwhelming event to make it relatable to all.

Like many others, I saw previous films on the subject. But they were not enough. These other films were important for raising awareness but I do not believe that we can end genocides with seas of faceless bodies, statistics, and political accusations. We prevent genocides by making one drop of blood precious, by making one life precious and by seeing and feeling our common humanity. Because even in the midst of that tragedy; life continued. While making KINYARWANDA, it was our intent to have audiences see the beauty of Rwanda, to fall in love with the people, to experience the depth of its culture and to be impacted by the possibility of hope in seeing the future that Rwanda is creating for itself.

With the making of KINYARWANDA I was given the opportunity to tell a story that should have been told in 1994. A story that may have connected me and others with a people, a culture, and a place. A story that may have changed how we as neighbors of the world responded to the destruction of a people had we truly known.

As a filmmaker, I try to reconcile my past, to be effective in the present, and to help guide how these things may unfold in the future. I do this by not by telling my story, but by helping to share the stories of others whose voices we wouldn't otherwise hear. By bringing our common humanity, vulnerability, and interconnectedness to light, my hope is that it will help us all rise to our shared potential. We can do so much better by and for each other when we are given the opportunity to see ourselves through each others' eyes. I want us to see ourselves in Rwanda.

-- Alrick Brown, November 2011

About the Cast

Cassandra Freeman (Lt. Rose)

Freeman is an established star of both stage and screen. She has appeared on Broadway in "Seven Guitars," and on TV in The Guiding Light, All My Children, Shark and Numbers. On the big screen, Freeman came to international recognition with roles in Chris Rock's I THINK I LOVE MY WIFE and Spike Lee's INSIDE MAN, where she starred alongside Denzel Washington. She is a graduate of both Florida State University and NYU's prestigious acting programs.

Edouard Bamporiki (Emmanuel)

Bamporiki is an award-winning filmmaker, actor and poet. As a young Rwandan artist, he has received national and international attention for his stories of hope, unity and reconciliation. Bamporiki was born in a small village in the Western province, educated in Rwandan schools, and lives in the capitol city of Kigali. His feature debut in Lee Isaac Chung's MUNYURANGABO yielded him a Best Actor nomination in Cannes. In 2008, he wrote, directed, starred in, and produced LONG COAT, which won first prize in African Film at the Focus Future Film Festival in New York.

Zaninka Hadidja (Jean)

A Burundi born Rwandese, Hadidja makes her film debut in the demanding role of Jean in KINYARWANDA. Returning to Rwanda with her family following the Genocide in late 1994, she is currently completing her studies in Travel and Tourism and aspires to take the film world by storm.

Cleophas Kabasiita (Francine)

KINYARWANDA is Kabasiita's 4th film. Looking on as an observer, she was accidently discovered during the casting calls for 100 DAYS. Since then she has been featured in EZRA and SOMETIMES IN APRIL. She is Ugandan/Rwandese by birth and began her life in Rwanda shortly following the Genocide of '94.

Marc Gwamaka (Patrique)

Born in Tanzania, Gwamaka made his acting debut on stage at the age of 5. He has since pursued all levels of creative communication, be it as a vocalist, drummer or writer. At 19, he began the Rwandan outreach program Peace and Love Proclaimers. He was briefly featured in the film SOMETIMES IN APRIL, which marked his feature film debut.

Kena Anae Onyenjekwe (Sgt. Fred)

Onyenjekwe is making his feature film debut in KINYARWANDA. He holds a B.F.A. in acting from N.Y.U. Tisch School of the Performing Arts. He is reunited here with Director Alrick Brown after starring in his film THE ADVENTURES OF SUPER N. Onyenjekwe has also been seen on "The View" and many acclaimed stage performances, most recently in "A Raisin in the Sun" -- also directed by Brown.

About the Filmmakers

Alrick Brown (Writer/Director/Producer)

Alrick Brown has a MFA from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. A filmmaker and teacher, he has found his calling writing, directing and producing narrative films and documentaries often focusing on social issues affecting the world at large. For over two years he served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Cote d'Ivoire. The interactions with the people of his village and his overall experiences in West Africa have informed his creative expression; an expression first fostered by his birth in Kingston, Jamaica and migration to, and upbringing in Plainfield, New Jersey. A fluent French speaker, he graduated from Rutgers University with a BA in English and a Masters in Education.

Since then he has devoted his energy to changing the world by giving a voice to the voiceless and telling stories that otherwise would not be told.

Alrick's collective work has screened in over forty film festivals, national and international, and received numerous awards. He and his Co-roducer, received the HBO Life Through Your Lens Emerging Filmmaker Award to produce their critically acclaimed documentary DEATH OF TWO SONS. In 2004 he was one of four NYU students featured in the IFC Documentary series Film School, produced by Academy award nominee Nannette Burstein. In 2007 he addressed the Motion Picture Association of America on C-SPAN. KINYARWANDA marks Brown's feature film directorial debut.

Darren Dean (Producer)

Darren Dean came to film late in life, writing, directing and producing the awardwinning short, SLEEP OVER. He followed that up as Co-Writer and Producer of PRINCE OF BROADWAY, which has won 18 prestigious international awards to date. Dean, also a respected journalist, is currently in pre-production as writer/producer on the big screen adaptation of Will Eisner's A CONTRACT WITH GOD.

Tommy Oliver (Producer)

Tommy Oliver is trying to make the world a better place, one film at a time. Growing up in inner city Philadelphia, he quickly learned that "preaching at" his peers was not the way to go and that film was a much better medium to reach them. Over the next fifteen years, he honed his craft through practice, training, education and experimentation.

As a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, where he double-majored in Economics and Digital Media, and as a Microsoft alum, he developed a keen understanding for business as a whole. As a cinematographer and certified techie, he developed the technical skills to fill in any crew position and to be able to better communicate with team leaders and vendors. As a producer and writer, he's faced innumerable challenges from crafting a coherent and marketable story to tackling the logistics of shooting in a foreign country and beyond. This combination of skills allows for outside the box thinking, creative problem solving and better communication. In addition to dozens of short films, commercials and a music video featuring charttopping artist, Wiz Khalifa, Tommy has produced three feature films including "Plastic Jesus" with Josh Leonard and Paul Schneider most recently.

Ishmael Ntihabose (Executive Producer)

Ishmael Ntihabose is a Rwandan born filmmaker who after working on SOMETIMES IN APRIL, SHOOTING DOGS and SHAKE HANDS WITH THE DEVIL as an assistant, decided that he was ready to step out on his own. As Executive Producer he brought together a team of international filmmakers to bring his first feature film, KINYARWANDA, to life.

Danny Vecchione (Director of Photography)

Danny has extensive training in the visual arts. After graduating Magna Cum Laude from Virginia Commonwealth University with a major in Communication Arts and Design, he moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in film. He established himself as a production designer, winning critical acclaim for the indie hit Bubba Ho-Tep.

Danny holds an M.F.A. from the prestigious Tisch School of the Arts at NYU, where he focused on cinematography. While there, he shot over forty short films, winning the Wasserman Award an unprecedented eleven times. The projects that he has worked on have been shown in every major film festival across the world. Over the past several years, he has served as D.P. in every format, including feature films, branded entertainment, television, commercials, music videos, and documentaries.

He recently shot the feature film William Vincent, directed by Jay Anania and starring James Franco, Julianne Nicholson, Martin Donovan, and Josh Lucas, which was an official selection of the 2010 Tribeca Film Festival. His most recent feature, Homewrecker, directed by The Barnes Brothers, won the "Best of Next" category at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival.

 

Trailer