In Rwanda, the preview of the film “Petit Pays” awakens the memory of exile and the civil war
It was a highly anticipated film, inspired by the book Petit Pays by Gaël Faye, translated into 40 languages. So much so that the first lady of Rwanda, Jeannette Kagame, was present at the preview. And the three theaters of the only cinema in the country, in Kigali, were packed.
Why such excitement? Firstly because Eric Barbier’s film was entirely shot in Rwanda. For Gaël Faye, the whole point of this adaptation was to be able to shoot it here, in the Great Lakes region. But given the difficulty of filming in Burundi and its capital Bujumbura, due to the political situation, it was Rwanda which hosted the filming.
Amateur actors who add their personal touch
Eric Barbier, the director, has chosen to bet on local actors, often amateurs, and on their ability to draw inspiration from their own story: “Working with people who are not actors, that means finding personalities, who will be able to add personal things, specific to them , “explains the director. I will give you an example: that of the gangs who ‘balkanize’ Bujumbura. We brought back people who are kids from Burundi and therefore who had this relationship with some political street violence . A story inspired by childhood in Burundi by Gaël Faye.
At the end of the film,
the audience was won over and upset. It must be said that many can identify with the story of the hero, the young Gaby, son of a Frenchman and a Rwandan Tutsi exiled in Burundi. He lives a happy childhood in Bujumbura, until a coup d’etat comes to upset everything: his parents separate, ethnic tensions burst into school, violence is unleashed in the streets
is therefore to choose sides. French or Rwandan? Tutsi or Hutu? A journey that the Kigali public knows only too well, as confirmed by this young spectator: “I was born in Burundi. My parents were Rwandans but they were exiled in Burundi, so it’s a story that speaks to me necessarily.”
The legacy of this story continues to weigh on the minds of residents today.
We are trying to get out of it , “ said the spectator.
The ethnic question is moreover clearly addressed through the reference to the genocide of the Tutsi in Rwanda in 1994: Gaby’s mother lost a large part of her family in the massacres. Throughout the film, we will see the turbulent history of the Great Lakes through the eyes of a child, of his relationships with his friends and family.
Because the Small Country, concludes Gaël Faye, is both Rwanda and Burundi, but also the lost paradise of a childhood interrupted by violence. The film will be released in France on March 18