Although it has been told before, even through film, the 1994 Genocide Against Tutsi is a narration that holds various perspectives through the eyes of many other filmmakers. Imfura is one of the latest short fiction films, also depicting the genocide aftermath.
Directed by 27-year-old Samuel Ishimwe, the story set and developed from Rwanda’s countryside speaks to most youth, most of whom are genocide survivors.
Unlike Crossing Lines, a 2013 film, which majorly focuses on reconciliation in relation to the 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi, Imfura unveils another side of not what happened, but the recurring effects and relation to today.
The documentary-fiction film narrates a story of Moses Mwizerwa, who stars as Gisa, a young man who during his university break decided to pay a visit to his ancestral land. He is welcomed by the village, most of whom are elders.
His view of life and lifestyle in the village make him uneasy as he tries to cope. His elder brother spends most of his time in church, while he spends most of his time with an aunt. Here, he learns more of what was left following the 1994 genocide, which claimed his parents.
Conflict arises between her aunt and an uncle, who claim to own the land where Gisa’s late father had built a house. His aunt admits, but insists how it is quite unfair for this land to be sold, and the house, which is in ruins demolished. She holds onto it, saying it keeps memories of genocide alive.
Gisa finds himself stuck between this conflict that he is all speechless during one of the village court sessions when he is asked to say a word about the issue.
But to Gisa, nothing matters to him, than the memory of his late mother. Even in confusion of it all, he is more inquisitive about who his mother was. He embarks on a quest to dig more of this, hence travelling to a distant village in pursuit of a lady, who knew his mother.
The film also integrates Rwandan cultural music into it. With most scenes being backed by contemplative songs, while a few others give way an old man playing the Inanga, a Rwandan traditional instrument, this clearly keeps the audience reminded of the uniqueness of the land.
The film is Rwanda’s first production to take part in the Berlinale Shorts Competition — one of the biggest international film festivals in Germany — where it emerged the winner this year.
It was also premiered at this year’s Luxor African Film Festival in Egypt, where it was awarded the Bronze Mask of Tutankhamun Award for Best Artistic Achievement in short film competition.
The film was screened and also won the Best Rwandan Short Film Award at this year’s Mashariki African Film Festival in Kigali.
Ishimwe’s experience in crafting this story is one which he admits drew him closer to the characters he casted. He is quite convinced how this film is a representation of most genocide survivors, who untill today desire to know of their ancestry.