Training Rwanda's filmmakers

Sunday October 23 2022
Training filmmakers

Some of the participants at Power in Constraints workshop. Picture: Courtesy


The local film industry has been striving to grow despite challenges like lack of training and funding.

Power in Constraints is a platform that seeks to uplift filmmakers by equipping them with skills to proffesionalise their trade. Created by filmmakers Philbert Mbabazi and Samuel Ishimwe of Imitana

Productions, the platform seeks to uplift filmmakers and market their productions.

“Cinema is a very expensive artform. That’s why it is mainly the rich countries that manage and are well thriving in it,” notes Mbabazi .

“We realised how financing and skills are some of the major constraints affecting our local film industry,” explains Mbabazi, who is also a trainer in the programme.

The platform that features a workshop programme targeting aspiring filmmakers, begins with an open call for submissions. Eight participants are selected for each workshop, and two finalists get to have their films produced.


The first worskshop was held in January 2020 with funding from the Swiss Cooperation and the Kigali Goethe Institute.

Despite a successful training session that was followed by the selection and making of two films, the initiative faced obstacles in the distribution of the films as all screening had been halted across global festivals because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Some of the productions include Fish Bowl by Ngabo wa Ganza, which premiered in the 2020 Locarno Film Festival and the Uppsala Short Film Festival.

Breaking Ground, another short film by Ines Girihirwe, was selected at the US 2020 American Film Institute Fest. It was further awarded the Ousmane Sembene Award at the 2021 Zanzibar International Film Festival and the 2021 Africa International Film Festival.

 “One of the films has made close to $10,000, yet it was shot in just one day, which shows us how much we can do with the little resources and space backed up by viable skills,” Mbabazi says.

Lockdown effect

The second edition of Power in Constraints took place in 2021 despite a difficult environment of lockdowns.

“Cinema can hardly be made without physical interaction by people, for it is a social performance,” Mbabazi explains.

Submissions for the next workshop ended on October 12 and the workshop kicked o on October 15, to run for two weeks as participants undergo intensive film training.

Mbabazi says in this third edition they will place more emphasis on practical pre-production and post-production skills, which are crucial in film making.

To conclude the programme will be a public screening of all six films from the three editions. In the future organizers are planning other programmers targeting actors, sound technicians, scriptwriters and cinematographers to appeal to a wider network of film professionals.