filming in Rwanda

Cinematography

“There’s something that doesn’t make sense. Let’s go and poke it with a stick.” I should write that on my camera bag - there are a lot of things about Rwanda that defy logic.

Dave in the undergrowth. Filming cows and banana palms.
Part of my life involves documenting stories from Rwanda. What happens in a country after something like genocide? What happens to the survivors, the perpetrators, the ordinary people when the aid convoys leave and media attention shifts elsewhere? How do you pick up the pieces after genocide? How do you ‘do justice’ in a situation like that? Since about 2003 I’ve been exploring those questions in film, photos and words.

The first attempts to look for answers resulted in the RwandanStories.org website and films. It focused on the genocide and early recovery: how could something like that happen? How can you possibly recover? I learnt a few things. In 2011, RwandanStories was awarded a United Nations Media Peace prize, and has developed a growing and active global audience.

In the 21st century, Rwanda has gone against most expectations of what a post-conflict society is supposed to look like. The country has stabilised and starting from ground zero, they are recovering and re-building. In no small part, this is down to the resilience and strength of character found in many ordinary Rwandans. 
1. In the marshes

On 11th April 1994, a Monday morning, the interahamwe militia attacked townspeople with clubs and machetes. Some people ran to the town hall, hoping for protection from the local authorities. But the mayor came out and told them, “If you go back home, you will be killed. If you escape into the bush, you will be killed. If you stay here, you will be killed. Nevertheless, you must leave here, because I do not want any blood in front of my town hall.”

Terrified Tutsi families did their best to hide from the teams of killers. The young and fit often chose to out-run them in the forests. The old, the sick, and parents with children spent their days hiding among the tall papyrus in the mud of the marshes. 

This is Alisa’s story...
2. Building peace

Alisa nearly died from her injuries. “When I got out of hospital I felt like I had become an animal. I thought that every Hutu should die - I hated them.” As she tells her story, we’re sitting on wooden benches in the shade of a large tree. She points to the person beside her and says, “This is the man who cut me..." 
Behind the scenes

To quote one of my Rwandan friends, Annet: “My work in Rwanda has changed me in many ways. It has exposed me to different people and cultures. It’s taught me to accept people. Everyone has been damaged in some way, every person has a story to tell. And from those stories you realise that we may have different cultures, but we are the same people - the same humanity.”

Here are a few behind-the-scenes pics...
Doing myself out of a job at Ntenyo school, southern Rwanda.
After a day's filming in a rural village, a young girl offered to help me pack up the gear. The audio leads came back like this. She said, "My brother's a musician." 
How to have an existential crisis: work with an Australian property developer and Rwandan genocide orphan in the same week.
Thanks for watching. In the past, I’ve kept the film-making and photography separate from my day-to-day illustration work. 
But if you'd like to make use of these award-winning skills :-) in story-telling and visual communication, you're welcome get in touch.
For more about Rwanda: www.rwandanstories.org  

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