Imbabazi - The Pardon
In Rwanda in 1994, Manzi and Karemera are best friends who seem to be inseparable, until the inexorable forces of history and violence tear them apart. After the death of Rwanda’s Hutu president plunges the country into ethnic civil war, Manzi must choose between friendship and family, and Karemera pays the horrific price. Fifteen years later, news of Manzi’s release from prison throws Karemera’s life into chaos. Karemera attempts to return his childhood friend to prison, while Manzi struggles with his own guilt. As the former friends search for justice and absolution, they both find themselves at odds with a society eager to forget the trauma of the past. Can Manzi and Karemera remain true to themselves and also come to terms with their past?
Joel Karekezi, Rwanda 2013, 73 min
With: Okuyo Joel Atiku Prynce, Wilson Egessa
Germany, Austria, Switzerland
Language: English Original
Poster/Pictures/Press Kit: Can be sent digitally
“Imbabazi is both filled with sorrow and life turning surprises. An encounter of two childhood friends during one of 20th century’s most horrifying genocide.” sev-magazine (The films to watch in 2014)
“Rwandan filmmaker Joel Karekezi has crafted a beautiful film that reflects the horror of past genocide but advocates for reconciliation and a brighter future in the next generation. The strong central performances from Wilson Egessa and Okuyo Joel Atiku Prynce bridge the film’s seeming narrative simplicity to a deeper emotional catharsis. As a survivor himself, Karekezi offers audiences a unique connection to the tragic events as well as an opportunity to search within for the forgiveness society needs to heal and flourish.“ SIFF.
As a Rwandan film director, I wanted to tell the story of the aftermath of the 1994 Tutsi Genocide. IMBABAZI: THE PARDON is very different from other films about the genocide. The story is told through the eyes of Rwandans and Africans and focuses on the search for resolution and forgiveness, which I hope will bring the audience a greater understanding of our history. I chose to tell this story by focusing on the characters rather than historical events. The central relationship of the film – the friendship and tragic separation of Karemera and Manzi – tells the larger story of the Tutsi Genocide.
I am a genocide survivor myself, which is why I wanted to explore not only Rwanda’s past but also Rwanda’s future. The tone of the film is hopeful, looking towards reconciliation and a brighter future for the next generation of Rwandans. I drew on my own personal experiences as a Rwandan and a genocide survivor to help the actors identify with their characters. I wanted to bring this story to the screen in a natural way so that the focus would be centered on the characters and their journey. I worked with my sound team to recreate the auditory environment of Rwanda on film.
I also wanted to use Rwandan musical elements in the soundtrack. As an African and Rwandan director, I am proud to have helped bring this story to a wider audience. I was honored to work together with my team through pre-production, production & post-production to bring this story to life. I hope that audiences will embrace the message of hope and forgiveness that is at the heart of IMBABAZI: THE PARDON.
Director Joel Karekezi
Joel Karakezi is a Rwandan genocide survivor. KAREKEZI Joel, in 2008 got a Diploma certificate in film directing. In 2009 he attended Maisha film lab in screenwriting and after the course he directed his short film “Le pardon” (on which the later feature is based), which won The Golden Imapala award at Amakula Film Festival in Uganda. It screened at Kenya International film festival, and in 2010 it screened at Zanzibar International film festival, Durban International film festival, Images that matter short film festival in Ethiopia, and Silicon Valley African Film Festival in California where it won The 2010 Best short film Award. In 2010 he participated in The Berlinale Campus in Germany. In May 2011, he was part of mentors during the Maisha Film Lab in RWANDA. The feature "The Pardon" recently won the Nile Grand Award and Golden Tutankhamen Award at the 3rd LUXOR African Film Festival.
He’s starting his production company in Rwanda (KAREKEZI FILM PRODUCTION) with the purpose of making good African films available to audiences worldwide.