Two years wind off since Rwanda knew a new film festival: Mashariki African Film Festival. The festival's founder, Tresor Senga gathered the team of creatives in cinematic environment, to bring what seemed as the New Wave in Rwandan festival organizations and Joel Karekezi was among, working for the Festival as the Artistic director.
The second edition closed 6 months ago; and “Now it is time to say goodbye to the festival and focus on other creative projects that I will share with you soon.” Said Joel in Facebook statement signed with Cinematic Love.
In the statement, Joel Karekezi who’s known for the writer, director and producer of Imbabazi: The Pardon; with the honor of working for the Festival since its inception said, “It has been an honor to work for Mashariki African Film Festival as an Artistic Director. We started from scratch, now the festival is alive and it is contributing to the development of the Rwandan Film Industry. I want thank the entire team who worked on my side with the same vision, my special thanks goes to Kantarama Gahigiri, Simone Soleil, Ibrahim Ahmed and all mentors who attended Mashariki and shared the skills with our audience, many thanks to all partners who made this dream alive.”
And… “Now it is time to say goodbye to the festival and focus on other creative projects that I will share with you soon. I support this festival to the hit; a new talented team is on board Iyugi creative: Marie Clementine Dusabejambo, Dida, Malik, Umuhire Elliane and lead by Tresor Senga. With cinematic love, Joel Karekezi.”
The then Festival Director: Joel Karekezi introducing the inaugural festival last year
Joel Karekezi has greatly contributed to the festival. He brought to the Rwandan young industry the internationally acclaimed but [otherwise] locally inaccessible productions made by African visionary artists. This year, Abderrahmane Sissako’s Oscar nominated Timbuktu opened the second edition, in attendance of its main actor Ibrahim Ahmed “Pino” who mentored for the festival during his weeklong stay in Kigali. Thanks to Joel’s artistic direction and international connections, the Rwandan audience watched films, from shorts to features to documentaries that should be a dream.
“Mashariki raised the voice of the Rwandan film industry to the international level. Besides, Rwandan young talents were introduced to the art through workshops held by the festival. And also, Rwandans accessed good films that they couldn’t have accessed.” Replied Joel, when asked by Inyarwanda’s reporter what the festival contributed to the Rwandan cinema in these past 2 years.
What’s the future of Mashariki without Joel?
"He was such a visionary director Mashariki has ever had. But it’s not that he is all gone, he has now the projects he has to focus on which keeps him busy so that he can’t consecrate his full time to the festival. But he will be by our sides to advise us through the journey.” Festival’s president, about Joel’s departure.
The festival organizers are teaming up with Iyugi Creative as Joel hinted in his statement to take over the festival’s organizations. Even though Tresor told me that the collaboration deal is not yet closed between the festival and Iyugi!