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Birds Are Singing in Kigali ready for its grand unveiling


- The new film by Joanna Kos-Krauze and Krzysztof Krauze, a reflection on the refugee situation, will be world-premiered in competition at Karlovy Vary

Birds Are Singing in Kigali ready for its grand unveiling
Eliane Umuhire in Birds Are Singing in Kigali

Years ago, directorial duo Joanna Kos-Krauze and Krzysztof Krauze spent quite some time travelling around Africa, a continent that deeply fascinated them. They had travelled through Zimbabwe and Botswana, and had been living for six months in Durban, South Africa, when they decided to tell the story of a refugee after the Rwandan genocide of 1994.

Right from the start of the shoot in Africa in 2014, Joanna and Krzysztof stressed that the film would not be a political tale about the dramatic conflict between the Hutus and the Tutsis. What they were interested in exploring was finding out how to go on living after the genocide, how to readapt to the world and oneself. Today, Joanna Kos-Krauze adds that Birds Are Singing in Kigali [+see also:
film review
interview: Joanna Kos-Krauze
film profile
 is also a rumination on forgiveness and reconciliation. But for her, it’s also a very personal film on bereavement and the possibility of piecing oneself back together in the wake of a loss, as her husband Krzysztof Krauze died of cancer in December 2014, at the start of the shoot. 

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This set of painful themes branches out from an individual story, based on a short story by Wojciech Albiński. The movie kicks off in 1994, on the eve of the Rwandan genocide. When it starts to rage, Anna (Jowita Budnik), a Polish ornithologist carrying out research into the declining vulture population in Rwanda, somewhat by chance saves Claudine (Eliane Umuhire), a young Tutsi woman, the daughter of a colleague whose entire family has been murdered. Anna takes Claudine to Poland, but the two women, both deeply traumatised, are unable to function in the routine of daily life, and they return to Rwanda. They try to support one another and, drawing on the strength that lies at the heart of their friendship, begin to live again.

Birds Are Singing in Kigali was produced by KOSFILM, in co-production with TVP SA Telewizja PolskaOdra-Film (which backed the movie to the tune of €119,000), Narodowe Centrum Kultury, Studio A and the Polish Film Institute (which provided support of €714,000). The production was also supported by the Locarno Film Festival, where the film snagged the First Look Award (which comes with €65,000 for post-production). The movie will be world-premiered in competition at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival (30 June–8 July).

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(Translated from French)

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