‘SETTLING’ and ‘The Young Cyclist,’ two films directed by Rwandan filmmakers Amelia Umuhire and Yuhi Amuli, are among 14 short films from 11 African countries chosen for the first tranche of Al Jazeera English’s Africa Direct, a distinctive series of compelling and immersive short documentaries produced and directed by all-African filmmaking talent.
The two filmmakers are not new to Rwanda’s film industry, having previously had their projects nominated and screened at various international film festivals. Amuli’s film ‘Akarwa’ (The Island), for example, was nominated for awards at the 2018 Zanzibar International Film Festival (ZIFF) and the 2018 Durban International Film Festival, among others.
The films present nuanced and complex viewpoints of a diverse and multifaceted African continent by opening an authentic window into a spectrum of ordinary and extraordinary African lives. The first six half-hour episodes will air on Al Jazeera English from November 30 to January 4, 2022, and will feature the first 14 short films from 11 countries.
In Umuhire’s film ‘Settling,’ for instance, one character named Josephine guides viewers on a journey through the city, including Kigali’s oldest urban settlement, as she describes her ideas about humanising urban design. Her story is woven throughout, of moving countries, challenging gender roles, and finding life-affirmation after a personal tragedy.
And in Yuhi Amuli’s film ‘The Young Cyclist,’ Aliane Mugisha tells her story with soft-spoken sincerity. She used to be a roadside hawker in Rwanda’s capital, Kigali, but she became attracted by the local bicycle taxi riders and decided she wanted to start a new business. Her perseverance paid off, and her story has a surprising and rewarding finish in this quietly charming film.
Ingrid Falck, Manager of Documentaries at Al Jazeera English, commissioned and conceived the selected short films produced in the form of documentaries. For this endeavour, the news agency collaborated with Big World Cinema, entirely based in Africa.
Over 300 applications from 31 countries were submitted to Al Jazeera’s Africa Direct project but chose only 14 from 11 countries. Umuhire and Yuhi are two of them from Rwanda.