In Zaza women are still considered second class citizens. Christine Nyirahabimana, the bakery's founder has set out to change that. In 2014 she started the Duterimbere Bakery, hiring 10 HIV positive single mothers as her employees.
Interview with Director Lena Strothe
Congratulations! Why did you make your film?
My childhood friend - and now Executive Producer on the film - Elizabeth Dettke approached me with this fascinating story. She had been in Rwanda with the Peace Corp for two years and encountered this incredibly strong woman, Christine, who had started a bakery employing only HIV positive, single mothers. She told me the bakery was now struggling and wanted to shoot a short documentary to raise money for them. I have a background in production and specifically marketing, so I saw an opportunity to put my skills towards something good. And I needed the good karma points.
How do personal and universal themes work in your film?
This isn't just another doom and gloom story about Africa. It's hopeful and inspiring to all of us, and really shows that one person can make a change that has a ripple effect throughout their community. It's really a story about strength, compassion and entrepreneurship.
How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development?
As with any documentary, we have a story and vision in mind, but it shifts as you learn more about the people you interview and spend time with. In our case, our protagonist was in a remote village in Africa so our planning - story-wise - was circumstantially minimal. We had to be open to her words, her employees' reactions and let the narrative shift with them.
What type of feedback have you received so far?
We've been very pleased and lucky to have had very gracious and receptive audiences. Christine's story is so personal, that it's universal. Her positivity is and strength seems to resonate most for people and it's what struck me as well while interviewing her.
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
When covering Africa there's a lot of history and background to cover. In our doc we purposely only touch on the genocide in Rwanda for example, as it was not our focus, but we have gotten a lot of questions and interest in expanding on that if we were to shoot a longer film.
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?
We have always seen our film as a fundraising vehicle to help Christine and her business get the tools and education they require, and getting our film out to your audience will certainly serve that purpose. That said, the ultimate goal, aside from getting the ladies immediate financial assistance, has always been for Christine's story to touch and inspire ALL women, entrepreneurs, and ANY person who dares to think just a little differently. We hope your readers are as inspired watching the film as we were making it.
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?
In terms of distribution, we are open to several (online/digital) avenues and hope the film festival circuit will continue to open doors for us. Currently we have not signed any specific or exclusive agreements. We are always open to your advice and/or guidance on this matter, and will continue to push for the film to reach as many folks as possible.
What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?
Most directly, we hope our donations and continued work with non-profits will have an immediate impact on the town of Zaza and it's most vulnerable citizens, women struggling with poverty and HIV. In a more universal sense, we want Christine's voice to inspire anyone who's doubting whether they can make a difference. She is a prime example that one person CAN have a ripple effect in their community.
What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?
80 percent of global citizens live on less than $1.90 a day, and 75 percent of people owning less than $3.10 a day live in rural areas. Can social enterprises such as Christine's help close the gap?
Would you like to add anything else?
Most recently we shared the short with Columbia Business School, and they selected our hardworking ladies of "Duterimbere" to be part of their Pangea Spring Program, which pairs students and faculty with businesses in developing countries and provides them with innovative business strategies. We are pleased to share that the bakery just successfully completed this training some weeks ago.
What other projects are the key creatives developing or working on now?
We're working on some additional stories that focus on female empowerment and entrepreneurship.
Interview: June 2018
We Are Moving Stories embraces new voices in drama, documentary, animation, TV, web series, music video, women's films, LGBTQIA+, POC, First Nations, scifi, supernatural, horror, world cinema. If you have just made a film - we'd love to hear from you. Or if you know a filmmaker - can you recommend us? More info: Carmela
WE CAN EFFECT CHANGE. ONE BREAD, ONE PERSON, ONE VILLAGE AT A TIME.
Length: 11 MIN
About the writer, director and producer:
Hashtags you use: #ZAZARISING
Where was this filmed? ZAZA, RWANDA
Funders: ELIZABETH DETTKE / SELF-FUNDED
Where can I watch it next and in the coming month?
CATCH US AT THE CHINESE THEATER, MONDAY JUNE 11TH @2:45OM