Bujumbura burning - apocalypse now.
A blood red sky houses thousands of bats migrating overhead. Smoke fills the air, fires burn throughout the city, and abandoned vehicles litter the roadside. Police armed with machine guns patrol the streets, while military men overflow the back of trucks that pass regularily through the city center. Hundreds of farmers from nearby villages spill onto the street and surround a government ministry office. Homeless children, covered in dirt, flock to strangers with wide open hands and eyes opened wider. Relieve your guilt, they say, that weight you feel on your conscience is stored in your pockets - let us help. Dogs and car horns compete for your attention, but your mind is focused on moving forward and not drawing unecessary attention to yourself. It's not the end of the world though, it's just the end of the day. The walk home in Bujumbura just tends to be more interesting than most.
We're beginning to understand the daily chaos that surrounds us and, in truth, really starting to enjoy our time in Burundi. The film center is coming into its own and the students are finally taking over some of the workload. From the first day we tried to pull stories out of them, now we're forcing them out through scripts. We're demanding a quick turnaround to help reduce the number of students we have - we're still over 30, but no where near the 50-odd students who laid claim to a place in the class earlier this week. Still, we turn people away daily, but are encouraged that there is more than enough interest for us to do continued work with the school should the pilot-project prove successful.
The bottom-line goal since we arrived has been to sufficiently train the students in order to produce five short films. Our efforts always take a practical approach to filmmaking - balance theory with technique, and don't stray too far from the task at hand. The in-class exercises we've designed, therefore, always incorporate their own scripts. Yesterday we taught storyboarding, first by taking a scene from Blood Diamond and having them illustrate it, then having them draw out the climax of their own film. Only five scripts will be made into films, but we want them to feel as though all of their scripts are ready to be filmed should the opportunity arise. We came arming them with hope and don't want them to feel shot down if they aren't selected. Unfortunately, that's exactly our task this weekend...