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If we don’t tell our own stories, no one else will

Gilbert Ndahayo

My name is Gilbert Ndahayo, also known as the Rwandan Filmmaker. Much as I currently live in USA, I was born in a traditional village of Astrida, so named after Queen Astrid of Belgium, southern Rwanda in 1975, Gilbert Ndahayo migrated to New York City in 2008. After five years working as country coordinator and writer for Baobab Connection – an Afro-Dutch Youth Online Magazine, his passion for storytelling drove him to cinema in 2005.

Ndahayo’s debut narrative short Scars of My Days (2006) aired on French television TV 5 Monde and premiered at Tribeca Film Festival in 2007 in the presence of an audience that included former US President Bill Clinton, Hollywood celebrities namely Robert DeNiro, Whoopi Goldberg and Everybody Loves Raymond’s producer Jane Rosenthal.

His documentary Behind This Convent (2008) received Verona Award for Best African Film and Signis First Commendation for Best African Documentary at Zanzibar International Film Festival in 2008 and subsequently toured European film festivals and screened at American universities. The Dutch film critic, Frank Witkam, brings out a comparison of Ndahayo’s films, “Ndahayo’s documentary makes me think of a few number of the best action filmmakers such as Hara Kazuo or, with the best work of Michael Moore.” Ndahayo admits to having watched French New Wave movies when he was a boy.

Rwanda: Beyond the Deadly Pit (2009) documents on tape the last hour of Ndahayo’s parents and 52 members of his immediate family who were massacred during the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Recipient of Paul Robeson Fund for Independent Media, the film was released in 2011 on DVD and is subject of scholarly scrutiny. Rwanda: Beyond The Deadly Pit features in two Routledge’s publications: Contemporary French and Francophone studies, Volume 14, Issue 5, 2010 under the title The Pertinence of Impertinent Storytelling in Gilbert Ndahayo’s documentary Rwanda: Beyond the Deadly and AFI Film Readers Documentary Testimonies: Global Archives of suffering in the section of Mediating genocide: producing digital survivor testimony in Rwanda.

Ndahayo was the producer of Flores de Ruanda (2008) which won the 2010 Goya Award winning documentary and his footage earned him a co-directing credit on the feature documentary Life in a Day (2011) directed by Kevin Macdonald and executive produced by YouTube and Ridley Scott – released at Sundance 2011.

In 1994, Ndahayo was a young boy showing off his hip hop skills, football and a gold medal from the 200 meters race at the national high school Olympics. With the outbreak of the Rwandan genocide, his parents and 52 members of his immediate family were massacred.

Often, Ndahayo works with professors in African cinema and genocide programs, and facilitates study-tour to Rwanda for American and European universities including Yale University, Webster University, Drury University Steven Spielberg’s USC Shoah Foundation Institute and the Spanish’ Universidad International Menéndez Pelayo (UIMP).

Ndahayo is the first Rwandan to be nominated for AMA Awards which a variety of international observers have fondly called the African Movie Academy Awards the “African Oscars.” Speaking to Deutsche Welle at the 2013 Berlinale Talent Campus, Gilbert Ndahayo announced the making of his trilogy The Rwandan Night, The Rwandan Day and The Rwandan Silence set to be released in 2014 for the 20th commemoration of the genocide against the Tutsis in Rwanda. At Maisha, I was a participant and attended the Annual Screenwriting and Directing Feature 2006. At Maisha I worked on Scars of Silver. My current occupation is am a graduate film student and currently work at Columbia University. I am working on a project

My contacts: +19172754648, gn2188@columbia.edu, www.ndahayogilbert.com

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