Eight films made by students who went on the Rwanda trip last year premiered at the Pan African Film Festival Los Angeles Feb. 8 at Rave Cinemas 15 Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza.
The festivalset aside a screening room specifically for the films “Just One Story” by Su Jin Nam ’16, “For the Love of the Game” by Chris Headley ’16 and former student Jacob Klein, “Children of the Genocide” by Nina Milligan ’16, “Cut the Tall Trees: The Killing Power of Words” by Noah Bennett ’15 and Max Cho ’15, “I am Kizito” by Mike Mapes ‘16, “Reweaving: Rwanda after Rape” by Katherine Calvert ‘15, “The Kindness of Strangers” by Cole Kawana ’16 and “The Rhythm of Healing” by Imani Cook-Gist ’15.
“I’m really thrilled and proud [of the students],” said Cheri Gaulke, Visual Arts Department Head, who led the trip. “A lot of times when I send out our films from these trips, like the Laos trip and the Rwanda trip, I think, ‘well how many films are they going to pick by students on the same subject?’ But, I think the fact that [the PAFF] picked so many is a testament to the way in which the students told very different kinds of stories. They’re all about the Rwandan genocide, but each student found a very unique angle on that story.”
According to its website, the PAFF was founded to be a place for filmmakers, photographers and artists to promote understanding and communication between cultures through film and art.
Students wrote and edited their films, and Gaulke and videographer Jeff MacIntyre did most of the filming, Gaulke said. To conduct interviews, students wrote down questions and gave them to a translator. It is illegal in Rwanda to talk about groups involved in the genocide, the Hutu and the Tutsi, so students had to wait for the their interviewees to mention the topic themselves.
Calvert’s film is about how the Rwandan government intentionally sent men infected with HIV to rape women during the Rwandan genocide.
“I hope people will see [after viewing her film] that weapons are not just guns and machetes, and that the effects go much deeper than the wounds we can see on the surface,” Calvert said.