Lend me your voice
Akili, a Congolese woman, lived as a refugee in Burundi before coming to Rwanda. Her journey has seen her family displaced and separated and she herself has been held and tortured in prison at risk of death. Through her resilience and the fighting spirit she found herself a place in the world through boxing until misogyny took that away from her also. By telling her story, she tries to deal with all the loss she’s experienced.
Lend me your voice is an experimental short documentary film that explores empathy by soliciting human reactions to adversity through the telling of refugee and abuse survivor, Akili’s story. Sparked by her need to let go and heal, she shares her life story, but not in a conventional way. We write about her difficult experiences and witness how strangers read her true story while putting themselves in her shoes. The moment the readers begin to read her story, they immediately realize that the journey they are about to take is not a typical safari. It begins in a prison cell in Burundi where Akili was being held, tortured and almost executed. Akili was accused of political crimes that she did not commit but luckily, she escaped to Rwanda. Akili is a 26 years old woman who never had a chance to grow up in her own country, the Democratic Republic of Congo, due to its civil wars that even took the life of her father and made her family become refugees in Burundi, a country that became her new home and gave her the opportunity to become a boxing champion. But her success was sabotaged by a man for the sake of his demands for fleeting sexual pleasure. Despite this, Akili is ready to fight again, succeed again and win again!
Claudine (Shenge) Ndimbira
Claudine (Shenge) Ndimbira is a Rwandan filmmaker who resides in Kigali, Rwanda. After her secondary studies, she took a three-month short course in digital filmmaking at the Kwetu Film Institute. Since then, she has been to several workshops in different filmmaking departments. Claudine directed her first short film in 2013 and since then she has worked as a scriptwriter, director and producer. Her films made it into different festivals: the Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles, Afrikamera Film Festival in Berlin, the Vancouver Queer Film Festival in Canada, and Afrika Filmfestival in Leuven. In 2018, she was part of the international class at Filmakademie Baden- Württemberg in Germany. Claudine is courageous, ambitious and open to new experiences.
In my opinion, childhood is something that should be fun for everyone. So that the time we reminisce about it our hearts are full of joy. Maybe I think like that because my childhood was not that good – like many other children in Rwanda that we had the same age. I remember that most of the time I was confused about so many things. I was too young to understand the cruelty that was happening around me but still it affected me.
No matter how hard it was, I always had to smile so that I keep a good appearance. I always wanted to talk to someone just to ask a few questions or try to know if I am normal but communication was tough for me. The only thing that saved me was my first small book. With it, I could communicate easily! Since then writing became my way of communicating. That time, I found my voice and I am always ready to lend it to anyone in need.
I can’t compare my life experiences with Akili’s. While she was telling me her story I was numb. All I could do to help her was to share hers through this film. I always feel for those who suffer and this is why this film is very dear to me. I think sharing it will shed light on the little things that we often ignore but that matter a lot. One of those things is that before judging others we should try to walk a mile in their shoes.
BA UCURA PRODUCTIONS
Born in Kigali, Rwanda, Marie-Clementine Dusabejambo, is a self-taught filmmaker with a bachelor’s degree in electronics and telecommunication. Her journey as a filmmaker started in 2008 when she joined a group of young filmmakers in her neighbourhood. In 2010, she responded to a call-out for a script competition by Tribeca Film Institute which she won. She then produced her first short film Lyiza, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2011. She worked as a researcher and assistant director on many different films, including Why We Hate?, a documentary television series by Steven Spielberg and Alex Gibney. She produced several short films which were screened in many festivals, television channels around the world and have international recognition and awards including the Thoma Sanka prize at FESPA (2017), Cinit award at the Milano Festival (2012), the Ousmane Sembene Award and Golden Dhow at ZIFF (2016), two Bronze Tanit at the JCC (2012, 2018), Best Short Film at Olympia International Film Festival Greece 2017. Her films are an expression of happiness, pain, dreams, and frustration of everyday life as she explores the dualities of life.
Don Edkins is a South African documentary filmmaker and producer based in Cape
Town. He has produced documentary film projects that have been broadcast around
the world, such as Steps for the Future, Why Democracy? and Why Poverty? earning
multiple international awards, including an Oscar for Taxi to the Dark Side, and the
Special Teddy Award at the 63rd Berlinale for Steps for the Future. The Peabody
awarded Why Poverty? Project, with documentary films from 21 countries, was
screened globally by 70 broadcasters. He is Executive Producer of AfriDocs, a free-to-
view VOD platform and broadcast strand across Africa that screens the best African
and international documentary films. He is currently producing a new documentary film
project with African filmmakers across the continent, Generation Africa, around the
theme of migration. He is a mentor for the Berlinale Talents, Durban FilmMart, and
Docs by the Sea in Indonesia, and a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Tiny Mungwe is a documentary film and arts producer. She currently works at STEPS
(Social Transformation and Empowerment Projects) where she produces Generation
Africa, a pan-African anthology of 25 documentary films from 16 countries in Africa, on
the topic of migration. Mungwe’s films include Akekho uGogo, a 48 minute
documentary about urban youth culture, which screened at several festivals including
the Durban International Film Festival, Apollo Film Festival and DOKANEMA Festival.
Her short film script Evelyn was selected for the National Film and Video Foundation
(NFVF) Women Filmmaker Project and she directed another short film in the program,
Daddy’s Boy. She has written for some of the highest rating South African television
dramas such as Muvhango and Matatiele, and was one of the directors on the series
Uzalo. For several years she worked as a festival organizer and programmer for four
international festivals, namely Time of the Writer, the Durban International Film
Festival, Jomba! Contemporary Dance Festival and Poetry Africa. During that time she also worked on the program for Durban FilmMart (the co-production market of the festival) and Talents Durban (a career development program for emerging African filmmakers in partnership with Berlinale Talents). She continues to work as a program curation associate for the Durban FilmMart. She also programmed and curated the city of Durban’s inaugural book and art fair, ARTiculate Africa.