I’m starting to feel like a politician over here. Not only am I putting up (and fixing) signs, holding meetings with my team on how to best communicate our platform and plans with our “constituents”, but I spent the entire day going door-to-door canvassing all the major video producers in Bujumbura to sell a dream.
Our goal is to recruit participants for a big event we’re holding next week called a Kino. Essentially, it’s a 48-hour film challenge open to the whole artistic community. The catch is that we need people to bring (or volunteer) their own equipment in order for everything to work. It’s only slightly more glamourous than standing on the side of the road asking for hand-outs.
To my surprise, our pitch was met with enthusiasm everywhere we went. In order to avoid the confusions that apparently surround BFC productions, we assured them that they retain full rights to their films. We also told them it’s a chance to try shooting something bold, something different, and see how it plays with an audience. Many were of course worried about the quality of the films, but I had an ace up my sleeve. In October 2011, I co-wrote a film that was produced in a Montreal Kino that was selected as one of the top films in Canada and screened at the Festival de Cannes. That got people’s attention.
By putting in face time with all the major players and explaining how we need them to pull off this initiative, we also built some good will and helped include them in the BFC’s larger goals and activities. Meanwhile, my brave Canadian collaborator Lysandre Leduc Boudreau (who bought her plane ticket two weeks ago to come help me teach, without ever having met me and only talking once on the phone), was also busy running around gathering supplies. Others were doing similar tasks, from making radio announcements to securing the required permissions and locations. Everyone came back with good news to report – people are starting to believe.
In political terms, Wednesday is the equivalent of an election day for the BFC. We’ve decided to hold a 2012 BFC forum and invited our 100+ students to come talk about the past five years, our plans this summer, our hopes for the future, and answer all questions. It will be my chance to set the record straight and hopefully inspire another term. The Kino and upcoming BFC class depend on it. We’ll soon find out if all this campaigning pays off.