The 2013 documentary Finding Hillywood, which offers a glimpse into the budding film industry in Rwanda, will be presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and Bpeace, the Business Council for Peace, at a special screening on Monday, October 21, at 7 p.m. at the Academy Theater in New York City.
The Finding Hillywood screening will be followed by an onstage discussion with Leah Warshawski, who directed and produced the documentary with Christopher Towey, and production designer Wynn Thomas (Ron Howard's A Beautiful Mind, Spike Lee's Inside Man), who was a member of the Academy's International Outreach delegation to Rwanda and Kenya in 2011.
According to the Academy's website, Wynn Thomas and several other Academy delegates, among them actress Alfre Woodard (Cross Creek), writer-director Phil Robinson (Field of Dreams), and cinematographer John Bailey (Groundhog Day), conducted workshops for African filmmakers "and saw the promise of Rwandan filmmaking and the magic of Hillywood screenings firsthand."
'Finding Hillywood': 'Inspirational' documentary about 'the power of cinema'
A handful of international movies have been set in Rwanda, e.g., Michael Apted's Gorillas in the Mist, which earned Sigourney Weaver a Best Actress Academy Award nomination; Terry George's Hotel Rwanda, starring Oscar nominees Don Cheadle and Sophie Okonedo; Raoul Peck's Sometimes in April, with Idris Elba and Debra Winger; and Roger Spottiswoode's Shake Hands with the Devil, with Roy Dupuis and Deborah Kara Unger.
Yet, outside of that country little is known about locally made Rwanda-set movies -- even though Lee Isaac Chung's American-Rwandan drama Munyurangabo, the story of a genocide orphan seeking revenge in Rwanda's countryside, was screened at the Cannes Film Festival and won the Los Angeles-based AFI FEST's 2007 Grand Jury Prize, while Alrick Brown's Kinyarwanda (officially a Franco-American production), won the World Cinema Dramatic Audience Award at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. Set at the time of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, Kinyarwanda features several personal stories, including the love affair between a Tutsi woman and a Hutu man.
Enter Finding Hillywood, described on the Academy's website as an "inspirational" documentary that "shows the power of cinema as a catalyst for healing and change." The brief synopsis below is also from the AMPAS' site:
The film centers around Ayuub Kasasa Mago, a local filmmaker whose mother died in the 1994 genocide. A coordinator for the Rwanda Film Festival (now in its 9th year), Mago leads a crew that travels from town to town for Hillywood, the section of the festival that presents locally made movies outdoors on giant inflatable screens, bringing joy and inspiration to tens of thousands in rural Rwandan communities.
Bpeace, the Business Council for Peace, is described as "a nonprofit network of business professionals who volunteer skills to entrepreneurs in conflict-affected countries to help them create significant employment."
More information about Finding Hillywood can be found on the film's website.
Finding Hillywood image via the film's site.