Muslims credited with saving many lives in Rwanda

Sixteen years after the ethnic violence that claimed some 800,000 lives, filmmakers are still searching for fresh ways to explore the Rwandan genocide.

Kinyarwanda,” by producer Darren Dean (“Prince of Broadway”) and director Alrick Brown (“Death of Two Sons”), explores the role played by Rwanda’s Muslim community in saving victims of the genocide, telling their stories through six interwoven narratives.

Ishmael Ntibahose, who first conceived of the idea for “Kinyarwanda” in 2004, makes his feature debut as executive producer.

Pic was shot on location in Rwanda, and is currently in post-production. Financing was provided by a grant from the European Commission.

Dean says shooting “Kinyarwanda” was a learning experience for many of the Rwandan crew, who had worked on large-scale productions like HBO Films’ “Sometimes in April” and BBC Films’ “Shooting Dogs,” but had little understanding of indie filmmaking.

Pic was shot for under $400,000, using a Red camera donated by Florida State U. Dean was encouraged to approach the university for help by his friend, the producer Ted Hope.

Ntibahose says that while the film is largely set during the genocide, he doesn’t want “Kinyarwanda” to be seen as the latest addition to a growing list of genocide-related films.

“The message in the film is not about the genocide,” he says. “It’s about unity and reconciliation and moving forward.”

Ntibahose hopes that the interwoven stories would provide the fullest portrait yet of how many Rwandans crossed religious and ethnic lines during the genocide to save one another.

The role of Rwanda’s Muslims in sheltering victims, he says, was often overlooked in film adaptations of the genocide, adding that at a time of growing tension between Christians and Muslims around the world, the film’s message was especially important.

The true stories depicted in the film came from extensive interviews with survivors, as well as the experiences of the Rwandan crew members.

Producer Dean says he was drawn to the script, written by Brown, because it was “telling a different side of the history of Rwanda.

“The genocide for filmmakers has kind of become a commodity,” he says. “It’s very easy to go there and do another film about the genocide. We wanted to go there and do something totally different.”

The producers hope to show “Kinyarwanda” at public screenings around Rwanda later this year, and are currently involved in talks for wider distribution. Dean says shooting “Kinyarwanda” was a learning experience for many of the Rwandan crew, who had worked on large-scale productions like HBO Films’ “Sometimes in April” and BBC Films’ “Shooting Dogs,” but had little understanding of indie filmmaking.

Pic was shot for under $400,000, using a Red camera donated by Florida State U. Dean was encouraged to approach the university for help by his friend, the producer Ted Hope.

Ntibahose says that while the film is largely set during the genocide, he doesn’t want “Kinyarwanda” to be seen as the latest addition to a growing list of genocide-related films.

The message in the film is not about the genocide,” he says. “It’s about unity and reconciliation and moving forward.”

Ntibahose hopes that the interwoven stories would provide the fullest portrait yet of how many Rwandans crossed religious and ethnic lines during the genocide to save one another.

The role of Rwanda’s Muslims in sheltering victims, he says, was often overlooked in film adaptations of the genocide, adding that at a time of growing tension between Christians and Muslims around the world, the film’s message was especially important.

The true stories depicted in the film came from extensive interviews with survivors, as well as the experiences of the Rwandan crew members.

Producer Dean says he was drawn to the script, written by Brown, because it was “telling a different side of the history of Rwanda.

The genocide for filmmakers has kind of become a commodity,” he says. “It’s very easy to go there and do another film about the genocide. We wanted to go there and do something totally different.”

The producers hope to show “Kinyarwanda” at public screenings around Rwanda later this year, and are currently involved in talks for wider distribution.

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