Eve of Destruction


Blog #3

Burundi is – not surprisingly – just like I left it eight months ago.  The hills, the heat, the beauty and the insanity all collide to forge something completely irresistible to a foreign filmmaker.  I plan on doing my share of shooting this time around, but I can’t wait for the local interpretation.

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When the sun rises tomorrow, so too will our freshly printed banner and logo, and the doors will open to the inaugural students of the Burundi Film Center.  Controlled chaos is an appropriate way of describing the days leading up to tonight however. Seeing through all the last minute details has been simultaneously draining and exhilarating.  We now have, after putting it together piece by piece, some essentials (power, chairs, video equipment, a whiteboard, the start and outline of a curriculum, etc.) and a few indulgences to try and start things off on the right foot (namely, ridiculously oversized t-shirts printed a few hours ago and a banner which will supposedly be delivered 45 minutes before we open). I’m telling myself that the last minute approach is just « à la façon du pays », but that’s probably because it helps me sleep and also because I’m trying desperately to brush up on my French.

Did I mention we will be doing all of our teaching en français ? No ? Oh, well that’s probably because I didn’t know either until a few days ago.

Raymond is Rwandan and speaks great English, but basically no French.  He of course also speaks his native language of Kinyarwanda which is almost identical to Kirundi, the Burundian native language. Burundi, like Rwanda, was first a German then Belgium colony, and French has stuck particularly here in Burundi as an official language. We’ve always known this, but been working under the pretext that our instructions would be in English, and the films made in Kirundi.  Well without getting into all the details of such assumptions and Raymond’s Plan B of hiring a translator (200 dollars a month, fairly reasonable actually), we’ve decided to press forward, bilingual Canadian flag a waiving and our second language as the weapon of choice. Sabrina, Bridget and I all speak French to varying degrees (Sabrina’s from Montreal with a good handle on it, I’m probably in the middle and Bridget is an Ottawa public servant with enough to get through unavoidable French unilingual situations). I for one am probably not appreciating how big of a bomb this is being dropped on us (especially with Raymond not doing nearly as much of the teaching anymore), but we’ve pillaged the internet to get all the terminology we can translated and are just going to take the plunge.

So much to say before I try to sleep and yet the only word that seems appropriate is « adieu »…

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Christopher Redmond