Rwanda: ‘Rwandan Film Industry Is Still Virgin, Open’


Richard Mugwaneza is known in the national movie industry as a film producer. He has worked on movie projects like Lyiza, Nota Bene and Umutoma. The founder of the Kabeza-based Samples Studios, Mugwaneza is currently establishing a theatre for previewing and critiquing new movies. Stephen Kalimba talked to him.

What’s your background in movies?

I have been working on movies since 2008 – mostly films called Cinema d’Auteur or festival films that target international audience. I made my first feature in 2010 and the second one was in 2012. The next feature is coming out soon. In between I have been directing, editing and working on other projects by other film-makers. I have attended film festivals in Berlin, USA, Egypt and South Africa.

What is the idea behind a post-production studio?

It was five months ago, when I came up with the Idea. The main idea is to build a post-production studio, but there is also need for something like a theatre where we can screen films that we have produced before they are released.

We don’t have anywhere to sit and watch our stuff before sending it to consumers. We submitted a proposal to the Ministry of Sports and Culture for a national theatre, but have not got a response yet. So with a simple place like this, film-makers can watch their movies on good equipment, comment and critique them.

It’s a small place; who is allowed in here?

It has to be a selected crowd of about 25 people. Our installation will provide for camera lighting and camera positioning equipment. We can also conduct press conferences about movies that are about to be released. If journalists can watch such movies and talk about them, that can be ideal.

Who is funding you in this project?

I am using my own savings, but I will launch a campaign to raise funds to complete the work. If a fund-raising campaign doesn’t work, I will continue injecting my money. I welcome anybody who can support the project. I have injected more than $5,000, and I need $9,000 to complete the project. We have covered 40 percent of the project.

What have you covered so far?

We have sound proofed the room, built a platform for the seats, bought projection, sound and most of the production equipment. We now do most post-production work here. We need good theatre chairs, a carpet and air condition.

Is it approved by authorities?

We don’t need any permission to build a theatre because we have the authorization to do movie screening business. But we would get it if necessary, because what we are doing is lawful and for the interest of Rwandans.

Which film personalities have you worked with?

I have worked with film-makers at Almond Tree Films, where I am a shareholder; as well as independent ones like Joel Karekezi, Kivu Ruhorahoza. I have also taught film at Kwetu Film Institute and Victory Technologies. I have also worked with director Lee Isaac Chung.

What advice do you have for budding movie producers?

The movie industry in the country is still young and everybody can have a place. It is one that will grow very first, so people had better join. If you want to do a movie, just do it and network with other people in the industry. It’s not that hard at the moment. If we have more people into film professionally, cinema in Rwanda will take off fast.

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