Contact: Chris Melville, [email protected]

27th Maine International Film Festival Welcomes Rwandan Filmmakers

WATERVILLE, Maine—The Maine International Film Festival is pleased to welcome Rwandan filmmakers Yuhi Amuli and Myriam Uwiragiye Birara for screenings of their films Citizen Kwame and The Bride, respectively, as part of the festival’s New Rwandan Cinema series. MIFF returns to Waterville July 12–21, showcasing 100 movies across the 10 days. Drawing in part from the record number of submissions ever received in the festival’s history, this year’s program tells diverse stories from myriad walks of life, from the familiar Maine faces to the international experiences gleaned from more than 40 countries.

The New Rwandan Cinema program represents the latest milestone in MIFF and the Maine Film Center’s growing international reputation, and in particular an ongoing effort to build connections and relationships with organizations and filmmakers in Central and East Africa. In November 2023, MFC Executive Director Mike Perreault traveled to Kigali, Rwanda, to serve as a juror in the Mashariki African Film Festival. While in Kigali, he made several connections and it is with great excitement that MIFF now prepares to welcome a series of Rwandan films and the artists behind them.

“We’re honored to partner with the Mashariki African Film Festival to screen new works by Rwandan filmmakers with two pairings of short- and feature-length films that project the stories of Rwandan people today who also hold close to their histories,” Perreault said. “We’re especially pleased to host the filmmakers of Citizen Kwame and The Bride at MIFF as we all look forward to building connections through film with this special program.”

A Kafkaesque film about travel visas, Citizen Kwame tells the story of an African man who wants to travel outside of his compound, but he must first get a visa from a white, Western gatekeeper who controls movements in and out of the house. It is only with the help of a new white, Western girlfriend that he succeeds.

In the director’s own words, “[Citizen Kwame] explores universal themes such as freedom of movement, family, and friendship.”

Citizen Kwame will screen alongside Kevine Kabeja Umuhoza’s short film I Wanna Go Home: Evie, 20, lives alone far from her home. Everything looks strange to her as she re-embodies history through movement and story.

Myriam Uwiragiye Birara’s The Bride explores the Guterura rite of enforced marriage. Eva dreams of attending medical school, but her aspirations are interrupted when she is kidnapped by a group of men for enforced marriage. Abandoned by her family, she struggles to cope

with the grim reality of her new life with her husband, Silas, and his cousin. While Silas is away working, the two young women form a tender connection as they spend their days doing household chores, beading, making tea, and swapping family histories and memories of the genocide. Despite this newfound ally, Eva contemplates running away to a life of freedom. Rendered with a quiet naturalism and brimming with humanity, The Bride is both a profound portrait of friendship amid dire circumstances and a calm contemplation of the ghosts of Rwanda’s past.

“I’m eagerly looking forward to attending MIFF 2024 and especially having the opportunity to engage in conversations with the audience of my film,” Birara said.

The Bride‘s screening at MIFF is sponsored by Pat Clark.

Alongside The Bride, we will screen Bora Shingiro’s short Igihuku, a meditation on grief, identity, family, and religion 30 years on from the generational impact of a genocide.

The full series will screen in MFC’s Cinema 1 on Saturday, July 13, beginning with Citizen Kwame at noon. The films will receive subsequent screenings on Sunday, July 14 (Citizen Kwame, I Wanna Go Home) and Wednesday, July 17 (The Bride, Igihuku). Amuli and Birara will attend their screenings to introduce their films and answer questions from audiences.

To learn more about the New Rwandan Cinema program and the dozens of other films screening at MIFF this year, visit Passes and tickets are available now.


About MIFF
Founded in 1998, the Maine International Film Festival (MIFF) is a project of the Maine Film Center. The 10 days of the festival showcase around 100 films, representing the best of American independent and international cinema, and spotlight some of Maine and New England’s most exciting and innovative filmmakers.