“There’s a picture from a time when you are wearing a short-sleeved striped shirt and with a plastic cup in your hand are toasting with a friend. You’re smiling and have the same gap in your teeth on your left as I have now. I checked all your photos for our similarities and collected them together. For a long time you existed only in pictures, until Marc sent me this recording…”
Amelia Umuhire tells the story of Innocent Seminega – her father – as a young student, teacher, husband and parent up until his death at the hands of the Hutu extremists in Rwanda. Tracing her family history as she addresses him, she weaves together threads from his love of linguistics, his romance with her mother, parenthood, and life lived amidst violent conflict – until unfurling her own story of her childhood and movement between countries – critiquing the white gaze which might try and frame her family’s story.
“They called these violent outbreaks, when the President was overthrown by his cousin, Juvénal Habyarimana, the ‘winds’. That’s how the Rwandan language is sometimes. Pogroms become winds, humans become cockroaches. Man-made violence becomes a force of nature and, like a bad harvest or other natural disasters, it comes and goes.”
Amelia Umuhire is a Rwandese filmmaker and artist based in Berlin. She wrote, directed and produced the award-winning web series ‘Polyglot’,which won Best German Webseries at the Webfest Berlin in 2015, the award-winning short experimental film ‘Mugabo’ and the Prix Europa nominated sound piece ‘Vaterland’ (Fatherland). Her work has been screened at the MOCA LA, MCA Chicago, Victoria and Albert Museum, 10th Berlin Biennale, the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and many more. She is a current laureate of the Villa Romana Prize in Florence, Italy and completing her first feature film.