Jacqueline, tell us a bit about yourself and your evolution into cinema.
For more than 12 years I have written, directed and produced films. During that time I had the opportunity to work with talented people who helped me improve my skills and to gain knowledge. There was the historical documentary, Homeland with the widely-broadcast Imagine Africa TV series (on 35 African public channels), the comedy High Life for Canal+ about a girl who is a tomboy and wants to lose her virginity before her 18th birthday. There was also the film Burning Down, for which I developed the script with Kisha Cameron-Dingle and Matt Plouffe in the context of the US-based Focus Features production company. Througout this demanding and rigourous year I learned as much as in 10 years of scriptwriting. I shot it with Eriq Ebouaney, Cyril Guei, Roxane Lebrun, all great actors, and did the stunts with Remi Canalpe, who was working at the same time on Mood Indigo by Michel Gondry. Burning Down was a wonderful experience. (An excerpt: https://vimeo.com/110250362).
Your project on love and resilience in Rwanda, what is it about?
Single Rwandan is an exciting adventure. A transmedia documentary project, including: television, Internet, art and literature. This is a project dear to my heart for two main reasons.
First, because it is my 3rd project in Rwanda—my country of birth. We will show how the new generation, using the tools of the time, takes charge of its destiny in order to move forward, despite the weight of the past and the challenges of the present. To talk about love in Rwanda is to be able to tell stories that people hold dear, that are poetic and funny while at the same time posing a fundamental question: How do we love each other after a genocide?
This project is also important because it allows me to propose a non-linear, interactive writing. New technologies are in the process of transforming the world in which we live. Since I write a lot of stories about Africa, this is a turning point that I cannot afford to miss. I would like to tell stories on screens that engage people organically: initially for mobile phone, but also for television. I still, of course, am committed to cinema, but for me it is like attending a live concert where there is also the possibility of listening to music every day on the computer, on my phone, on the radio. I love cinema but I especially love to tell stories and reach a very large audience.
Single Rwandan is an important project for me but I hope for others as well. This is the first transmedia project that proposes to talk about Rwanda in another way—through love and new technologies. In October, I presented Single Rwandan in London, at the Pixel Market, the first market for financing transmedia programmes. As far as I know, it was the only African project that was presented, and that must change. Africans are invested in new technologies; the creators and producers of African stories must also invest in this area. With the knowledge and skills that I am acquiring, I hope to contribute soon to this migration of creativity.
You have just launched a crowdfunding campaign, what are your objectives and the strategies towards achieving your goals?
Single Rwandan is an extensive and demanding project that has attracted the attention of many partners. The CNC, TV5 Monde, Courrier International in France, Igihe.com, TV10 Rwanda, TFI New Media Fund and the Ford Foundation in the United States. But the promised funding requires for the most part, that we be already in production. The crowdfunding campaign is to finish the technical development of the project—planning designs for the site, the drawings—and to meet with the community of 4500 people who we have already brought together on Facebook in order to collect the stories that will make this a truly participatory documentary project.
We launched a campaign on Indiegogo in English and French. We are launching a communication campaign both to raise funds and to expand our community. We are not necessarily looking for big donors, but 1000 to 2000 people who will invest small amounts in order to be part of the community that supports the project. It is not easy but I think that anyone who is interested in a new approach to tell stories using the multiple screens around us may be interested in participating in the funding for this project. We seek 55,000€. It’s a lot and it’s not much. This is not our total budget, but just enough to finish the development. But to reach a wide audience it must be a great project, and it is that for which we are seeking funding.
We will of course reach out to Rwandans and all those who have a curiosity about Rwanda. We also are looking to people interested in a new approach to Africa. Africans often complain that the Western media only talks about disease and poverty. Well this project, which will be seen around the world, provides the opportunity to support a new vision, modern, beautiful and moving.
So join our campaign!
Interview with Jacqueline Kalimunda and translation from French by Beti Ellerson, October 2014.