Rising Screen: The Role of Women in the Development of the Film Industry in Rwanda (1991-2018)
For this research, I propose that film has become an emerging mode of empowerment for women as they navigate dynamics of life in Rwanda. This newly popularized tradition cultivates artistic license for women to speak out on social justice issues; highlighting gendered wage gaps, education, and violence as well as contemporary interpersonal relationships. Film serves as an ideal medium to examine the intersecting issues that women are facing given that the content women are producing through their work can contravene gender norms and illustrate women’s agency.
Rwandan women’s role in participation in the film industry is examined against the background of Rwanda’s the post-genocide context and the presence of trans-national institutions in filmmaking. The impact women and girls have had on reconstruction in Rwanda is a driving force for the movement of women’s empowerment and the diversification of other leadership/employment opportunities with the inclusion of women. The cultural traditions in Rwanda are still deeply patriarchal. Lastly, this study, unlike others, explores Rwandan women’s films as a civic force that assumes a space where civil society is precarious. This particular approach analyzes the new relationships being forged in the form of associations and groups for local/global Rwandan women filmmakers who recognize precarious access to resources in the industry and within national unity and reconciliation policy. These discriminations remain an obstacle for women who desire to participate in film production. This work aims to use this study to analyze the intersectional work being done by Rwandan women filmmakers as the industry develops, and shows the impact African women’s films can have on new conceptualizations of how gendered issues are experienced/constructed at the local, national, and international levels in the aftermath of conflict.
Camille Dantzler is a doctoral candidate in the Department of African Studies and Research at Howard University. Camille received her Master’s degree in African American and African Studies at The Ohio State University (2012) and double Bachelor’s degrees in African American and African Diaspora Studies and Psychology from Indiana University-Bloomington (2009). Her research interests include gender studies, peace and conflict studies, African film and literature criticism, genocide studies, trauma studies, critical race theory, and narratology. She is also passionate about social justice issues as a member of Howard University’s Gender Collective and Graduate Student Council. She has interned at Friends of Angola, Rwanda Women in Action, Africa Action, and The Boys and Girls Club.