Rwandan filmmaker Dieu Donne Gahizi Ganza won the BIOMOVIE award which is organised annually in London by United Kingdom’s TV1 and based on environmental themes. The third born in a family of five, Ganza, 26, spared time from his busy schedule to talk to our entertainment writer Diana Mutimura. Below are the excerpts.
Diana : Tell us much about your award?
Ganza : At first, I was not confident that I would win since for the last 26 years, the award has been won by foreign film producers. But at the back of my mind, I knew that my work was worth it, I’m really overwhelmed to have put my country (Rwanda) and Africa at large on the world map and I intend to sustain the success.
A lot of people must be wondering how you climbed all the way up to even compete with renowned filmmakers. Can you share with us the secret or is it that you have long experience in the industry?
I started my career four years ago after taking a six month course in Kenya and so far, I’ve worked with Jean Claude Uwiringiyimana, a renowned local film producer. I must say that hard work matters a lot, yet creativity is also important for a successful film.
This is interesting. You are only four years in the profession ; yet you emerge a winner at a global competition. What encouraged you take part in the competition which has in the past disregarded African filmmakers ?
I understand your concern but as I had said earlier, hard-work and creativity are the two most important things for one to thrive in the industry. It is due to this attitude that one of my two films ‘One Day of the Blind Student’ emerged the best in last year’s film festival held at the National University of Rwanda (NUR). This film brought me to the limelight and I started to interact with renowned film producers who have been taking part in the award. Ezeyi was among the filmmakers who effortlessly persuaded me to apply for the BIOMOVIE award.
Wow, it seems your work has been yielding success all along. So tell us more about your award winning film which has been recognised for promoting authentic Rwandan practices ?
Creativity matters a lot, look at the title of the film, for instance, Change I Mean It. I had to find a unique aspect that was relevant to the competition’s theme which was environmental conservation and Umuganda ( a monthly communal cleaning) was my favourite since it involves every citizen in cleaning their neighbourhoods as well as planting more trees. At some point, I wished that the same practice should be replicated in other countries too, because if we want to save the world from global warming, we should double our efforts to change the situation.
What would be your advice to upcoming filmmakers ?
I would like to encourage my fellow producers to always aim higher and they shouldn’t be discouraged by the so called international awards or even big film festivals. I urge them to always take part in the competitions and strive to show their work to the world.
I imagine entering the competition might have cost you a fortune given the poor returns from films in Rwanda.
What you say is true. The film industry has not yet grown to make us millionaires like our colleagues in the neighbouring countries. I should really thank my sponsors including the National Youth Council which intervened and paid both my air ticket and accommodation in the UK after Nokia pulled out. I also can’t end without thanking the Minister of Lands and Environment together with the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) who facilitated in shooting the award winning film. Surf Survivors, an association of genocide led orphans also supported me financially. I also thank all those who voted for my film especially Rwandans in the Diaspora.