Price: $350.00

    Code: 2470

    Directed by Leah Warshawski and Chris Towey
    2013, 58 minutes
    Purchase: $350 | Classroom rental: $125

    A stirring documentary about the very beginning of Rwanda's film industry, Finding Hillywood looks at the people - the filmmakers, festival organizers, the audience - that are part of this blossoming film community and shows how it has become a beacon of hope and healing for a country still grappling with its past.

    With extensive excerpts from local productions, many of them dealing directly or obliquely with the Rwandan genocide and its aftermath, Finding Hillywood introduces the major players who set the industry in motion. Eric Kabera founded the Kwetu Film Institute (whose sole purpose is to train those interested in making movies), directed the first Rwandan feature, and created the Rwanda Film Festival. Ayuub Kasasa Mago is a renaissance man within the industry, equally adept at directing, acting, scouting, or "fixing" just about anything a production might need. It is through Mago, whose own passion for filmmaking was sparked by working on the set of The Last King of Scotland, that we come to see this budding industry.

    As a coordinator for the Rwanda Film Festival, Mago leads a dedicated crew that travels from town to town for "Hillywood" (a reference to Rwanda's nickname of ""Land of a Thousand Hills""), the part of the festival that brings locally made movies to rural communities on a giant inflatable screen. Despite serious challenges, from severe weather to lack of electricity, Mago and his crew persevere. The screenings attract tens of thousands of viewers, many of whom have either never seen a movie on a big screen or any movie in the Rwandan language.

    An inspirational documentary, Finding Hillywood reveals the power of media, and cinema in particular, to act as a catalyst for cultural healing and change.

    Subjects & Collections

    Festivals & Awards

    * Winner, Best Mid-Length Documentary, Montreal International Black Film Festival
    * Winner, Audience Award Best Documentary, Napa Film Festival
    * Winner, Best Pacific Northwest Film, Eugene Film Festival
    * Winner, 3rd Prize Best Documentary, Afghanistan Human Rights Film Festival
    * Winner, Critic's Award, Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival
    * Official Selection, Seattle International Film Festival
    * Official Selection, Mill Valley Film Festival
    * Official Selection, Margaret Mead Film Festival


    "Feels like watching the birth of a film culture." - The Seattle Times

    "A reminder how incredible the medium of film can be." - Film Threat

    “The film is simultaneously a Rwandan history lesson, and also a lesson in the way (the power of) media can facilitate and activate forces of healing…the idea of large communities (anywhere) in the world seeing a movie (experiencing cinema) for the very first time is astounding." - Alan Berliner (Director/ Producer)

    "Warshawski's Finding Hillywood moved my students to contemplate the unique power of cinematic image in commemorating historical trauma. This documentary made a huge impact in a community that continues to struggle with its own history of slavery." - Aga Skrodzka, Associate Professor in Film Studies, Clemson University

    "Finding Hillywood is the perfect film for the classroom and educational programming . Finding Hillywood illustrates the healing power of the arts and the innate desire to create. Students will never take the cineplex down the street for granted again." - Teresa Hollingsworth, Director, Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers

    "Topics here range from the role of domestic violence and its impact on the family to women’s issues and the need to move beyond paralyzing self-pity to accord... Recommended for students of Third World cinema." - Library Journal

    " Recommended . Finding Hillywood would support courses in history, political science, media studies, and film, among others. Public libraries would also benefit from adding this title to their collections."- Educational Media Reviews Online

    “One of the most striking moments in the doc comes as the inflatable Hillywood screen is going up on some empty lot or football pitch. Beside it is a memorial for a mass grave. The camera pans left. Suddenly, we see literally thousands of people, many of them no older than ten, waiting eagerly for a movie to begin. The image is the perfect metaphor for what the Hillywood Festival means to Rwanda. Movies are cathartic, and what Finding Hillywood so effectively demonstrates is that these movies, this festival, is presenting a new way for Rwandans to come to terms with their past, and to heal.” - Shadow and Act

    " Finding Hillywood reminds us that the human spirit is boundless in its capacity for redemption, and that it is our creativity that provides us with the means." - Peter Clothier, Huffington Post