By Elias Hakizimana
Rwandan female film makers express concerns over various challenges still facing their industry, limiting them to achieve their full potential, and market what they produce in a very profitable manner.
Despite the efforts and financial investment they put in, they say that they do not benefit from their works due to challenges such as lack of funding, lack of appropriate policy as well as lack of protection by Intellectual Property (IP) law against plagiarism of their which products.
Intellectual property refers to creations of the mind: inventions; literary and artistic works; and symbols, names and images used in commerce, according to World Intellectual Property Organization (WPO).
Ella Liliane Mutuyimana, one such film makers said that put a lot of money and efforts in film production and need to get returns on their investment; but the playing ground is not permitting.
The aspirant filmmaker says that her first film, which she expected to exhibit in film festival, was used by her producer in his own interest, expressing that she could do nothing to deal with it because of lack of advocacy.
“We need exact policies including a clear intellectual property (IP) law so that people stop using our films irrespectively and without our authorization,” Mutuyimana said.
“So, we need people who have knowledge and experience in the industry to represent us for protection of our products,” Mutuyimana added.
The only art works coverage offered by Rwanda development board (RDB) is copyrights, which film makers say are not clear for everybody to understand and make use of, especially illiterate ones.
Mutuyimana also argued that they invest in the industry and keep losing as Rwandans prefer films produced by foreigners than local ones.
“The Ministry of Sport and Culture (MINISPOC) and Rwanda Academy of Language And Culture (RALC) should play a significant role to set up clear culture policy to protect our works as we also work under their authorities,” said Eliane Umuhire, another female film maker.
Women’s ability in filmmaking “not trusted”
Elizabeth Utamuriza, a female film maker engaged in cinematography, camera, producer and writer said that people do not trust women to produce quality images than boys, which is another challenge.
“The problem is not than we are ladies, but, marketing and avail our products to Rwandans. People do not believe ladies can produce quality images as boys.” Utamuriza said.
She also mentioned that they work with a big number of men in the industry who sometimes request them for another part of social life (sexual corruption) when they ask for support.
“We need the government’s efforts to help us move forward as we are currently being supported by Goethe Institute and French Institute, but we need more local support,” Utamuriza noted.
Stressing lack of funding as a hurdle to the industry, David Ndahiriwe from Kicukiro said that it is a general problem even worldwide depending on the level of production, but he expressed that film makers still see this as a barrier to develop their works.
“Our government has not yet understood how films can make big money, they only invest in some issues like cycling festivals (Amagare), for us it requires much efforts to show what we can but we still lack start-ups,” Ndahiriwe said.
Speaking during the panel discussion organized by Rwanda film festival at Goethe Institute in Kigali on October 23, 2017, Sophie Neiman, Rwanda film festival coordinator said that they will continue raise a voice to request local support to help film makers showcase what they do both at local and international level.
“I hope from these discussions people can continue forge connections and collaborate by helping each other,” Neiman noted.
According to Catharina Hey, Director of Goethe Institute, they will engage dialogue and request the government for a help in growing the industry successfully.
“This is something the government should motivate to push film industry forward. We expect to engage in dialogues with global film industry and we will engage dialogues with the government and ask them for a help,” Hey said.
She also said that Goethe institute is preparing a platform for female film makers to set up some films and host Rwandans to watch.
Hey mentioned that female film makers have created a strong voice during the first edition of Rwandan film festival, which she says can give a positive image of what ladies can.
Asked about the IP Law as another challenge, she said “we can make advocacy on IP law with the government to create a financial ground in film industry,” Hey said.
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