With helicopters flying overhead, world media in attendance and most embassies closed, Burundi swore in their incumbent president today. A few of our students who work as journalists and videographers were even in attendance, while I tried to work around the defacto civic holiday and finally saw the early edits of our films for the first time. Caro has been admirably carrying the load for us in post-production, while I’ve been ridiculously busy getting my own crash course in diplomacy.
The other volunteers, and even people back home, constantly remind me that if we make the right contacts the BFC will get proper financial support. So for the past week, I’ve been booked solid with meetings looking for partners and sponsors to help us with the upcoming Gala on Saturday and our traveling film festival – CinémaMobile. After a barrage of rejections (almost always coated with encouragement and admiration for what we’re doing), we finally made an unlikely ally in the German ambassador’s wife. After she made just a few phone calls, we suddenly had the attention of some keys players in the international community and a rendez-vous that afternoon with Gilles Vaubours, the cultural attaché of the French embassy. We sat together for 30-minutes, and suddenly not only did we have our gala’s Master of Ceremony, but also a fully subsidized plane ticket for Papy to attend the Trouville Off-Courts Film Festival in a few weeks and represent our new films. When things do go good for us, they seem to go very good.
Our next task was to invite all the right people to our event with limited time and seats. We made a conservative list and delegated people to rush out the invitations yesterday, after a four-hour late-night date with the printer to get everything looking just right. The result is fairly impressive, even if the politics of who to actually invite is a bit messy. We have 300 seats, half of which are promised to our students and their family/friends. The rest went quick, and so we’re trying to encourage everyone to come regardless of whether or not they have a ticket. Gilles says that we shouldn’t expect more than half the seats filled, so we’re trying to be careful who we give them out to. I also ruined my favourite pair of pants getting them made, so I’ll be extra upset if the invitations fall into unappreciative hands.
The finish line is in sight and most things look to be in good shape for Saturday.Except unfortunately the films themselves, which are still quite a ways from being finished (and subtitled), despite Caro’s tireless efforts. We had originally scheduled the gala to happen tomorrow, but were forced to reschedule when we found out the screening room was already booked. It has since become available, but we ran with our blessing-in-disguise to give ourselves the extra day. Without a doubt, we’re going to need it.