Lack of funds stunts growth of film industry

Sunday January 21 2018

Moviegoers watch a film at Hotel Des Mille Colline in Kigali at a previous Rwanda Film Festival. PHOTO | ANDREW I KAZIBWE | NATION


Rwanda’s nascent film industry has been steadily growing, but this progress faces several challenges. The major one is lack of funding.

“We are limited by funding to produce marketable film projects,” said Celestin Gakwaya, an actor.

Willy Ndahiro, a renowned actor, added that most producers lack funding for their films.

“So far, it is not possible to earn a living from acting,” he said.

Yvette Mahoro, who started acting two years ago takes pride in her career.

“My passion for the craft makes me stick it out despite the lack of money,” she said.


For four years, Mutiganda Wa Nkunda, is yet to realise his dream of being a successful filmmaker, but he remains hopeful.

The director is behind projects like Rayila and Ishaba, which have been premiered internationally in festivals like Black Water Film Festival in the USA and the Zanzibar International Film Festival.

Despite Rwandan films being released into the market each year, many have not been screened locally and most Rwandans never get to know about them.

“The local film industry is ready to consume our productions, but lacks support in terms of funds. This is why we opt to feature our films in foreign festivals before screening them in Rwanda,” said Nkunda.

There are also very few places to screen local films and this has seen Mugwaneza and Mutiganda Wa Nkunda venture into producing film series for local television.

The film makers are behind local films series like Seburikoko and City Maid, which have been televised for the past three years on Rwanda Television.

“Working on the production and content of the series can be challenging, but it motivates us to be more creative,” said Mugwaneza.

Collaborative projects

Recently, producers have been working on collaborative projects in a bid to capture a regional audience.

Among them is The Black Belgian, a thriller film directed by Jean Luc Habimana, and Joel Karekezi’s Imbabazi (from The Pardon). The film starred Rwandan and Ugandan actors.

Another film titledA Seed Of Memories, directed by Richard Mugwaneza, premiered last year at the Zanzibar International Film Festival. It is a collaborative project between Rwanda and Tanzania.

On the positive, the government is looking into ways of developing the creative industry.

Talks are ongoing between the Ministry of Sports and Culture, local Film festival founders, the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Rwanda Convention Bureau and the Rwanda Development Board on ways to boost local film production both nationally and globally.

According to Eric Kabera, the founder of the Rwanda Film Festival, the government initiative would see a formation of a national film festival, which would be used to market local films.

Another challenge facing film makers is piracy.