Last Saturday, the Media Challenge Academy (MCA) played host to multiple award winning documentary film maker Evrard Niyomwungere who interacted with student s sharing knowledge in his field of expertise.
Evrard, 32 began his journalism career at the age of 19, with little formal education in journalism and struggled to make his mark enjoying stints as a camera man for Renaissance TV in Burundi and also doing photography for the Iwacu News before he resorted to documentary film making.
The fact that information in print media was presented and then it disappeared after a short while didn’t sit well with him.
At the peak of his life in the media, he realized that he wanted to have control of what stories he told to his audience.
“The portrayal of Burundi to the outside world was negative and focused more on the suffering so I decided to do something different.” He said.
It was this aim along with a desire to balance news by portraying both good and bad news that he claims turned him into a documentary film maker.
“Many stories on news are about bad things, I wanted to bring in the good side too in order to give balance to a story” he said.
As a documentary film maker Niyomwungere has won a score of awards for his documentary films with the most recent being “Suzanne” which won 2 awards in 2012 for best documentary and best sound design at the Burundi International Film festival along with his recent film “Majembere, the fighter” which recently won Best East African film award at the Uganda film Festival last year.
He showed us his film “Majembere, the fighter”, a story narrated by Majembere, a twenty year old Burundian crippled in his childhood who struggles to make a life for himself, rising above his disability to try to overcome poverty by working on the streets of Bujumbura.
Majembere has to overcome various challenges that push against him but the film maker’s message is not the hardships he goes through but rather the way he fights to overcome his challenges with a positive attitude.
It’s not even about sympathy and inability but rather like Evrard informed us earlier on, it’s a good story in a bad situation that chooses to highlight ability and it’s no wonder it received tremendous approval from the audience that voted it as the best short film.
At the end of the day screening there was high praise all over the audience who appreciated the beauty and skill used to make the documentary.
“I love the fact that you let the subject (Majembere) tell his own story since I feel it gives the story more credibility” said Eve Masawi, an intern at the Media Challenge Academy.
Asked about what has driven him to success in documentary film making, Niyomwungere summarized it into a passion for film which he professed in his introductory comments.
“I love making documentary films” he had informed us just after introducing himself earlier on at the beginning of his session.
It was a brief encounter; one that was short-lived by time and complicated by the fact that Evrard Niyomwungere spoke French which called for the use of a translator but the lessons from an award-winning mentor definitely sank in.