'Finding Hillywood gives me goosebumps. In an era of mega-budgets and special effects, here's a fascinating, compelling and universal story about the power of ... story. It reminds me of why some of us became filmmakers and why all of us became film lovers.' – Phil Alden Robinson, writer/director 'Field of Dreams'
In Hillywood (Rwanda's film industry named for the country's rolling hills), there is a blossoming film community. As Rwanda continues to heal from the wounds of a cultural genocide almost 20 years ago, cinema has become a way for artists to express themselves and create cultural discussion. 'Finding Hillywood' introduces the major players who set the beginning of the industry in motion. Eric Kabera founded the Kwetu Film Institute, directed the first Rwandan feature, and created the Rwanda Film Festival. Ayuub Kasasa Mago is a renaissance man within the industry, equally adept at directing, acting, scouting, or "fixing" just about anything a production might need. While it is easy to see that Eric is the heart of the industry, as the film continues Ayuub comes to represent its soul with his all-encompassing passion.
Seattle filmmakers Leah Warshawski and Chris Towey have created a stirring documentary that functions as a Rwandan history lesson but also reveals the power of media as a catalyst for cultural healing. The film's final act takes a breathtaking final turn as Hillywood connects the people of Rwanda with the goosebumps of seeing their culture represented on the biggest screen available. For more on the film, go to the website.
Leah Warshawski is a first-time feature director who specializes in producing documentary-style video content, television shows and short films in remote parts of the world. To date, Leah has filmed in over 30 countries around the world. She has a BA in Japanese language from the University of Hawaii and has worked on a number of Japanese commercials as well as the network television show I Survived a Japanese Game Show. Before developing Fidning Hillywood, Leah worked in Hawaii in the marine department for major features and shows including The Rundown, Hawaii, Baywatch and Lost. She is currently in development for a documentary feature about her 87-year old grandmother (and Holocaust survivor) called Big Sonia. Leah is most passionate about storytelling and adventure travel.
Producer/Director/Director of Photography Chris Towey has worked in the film industry for nearly three decades. In the past 12 years, he has traveled worldwide shooting for TV, corporate entities and feature films. Towey has directed photography on feature-length documentaries including Blackfish in 2013, Bear Trek in 2013 and Trade-Off in 2000. He has also shot commercials and TV programs for MSNBC, National Geographic, E!, PBS Nature, Discovery, History Channel and the BBC.
The Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers is a program of South Arts. Southern Circuit screenings are funded in part by a grant from South Arts in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts. South Arts, a nonprofit regional arts organization, was founded in 1975 to build on the South's unique heritage and enhance the public value of the arts. South Arts' work responds to the arts environment and cultural trends with a regional perspective. For more information, visit the website.
BGSD, COMM, DIGM, ENGL, HIST, HUMT, MALS, PSYC, RTVF, SOAA, SOCI, SPCH, THEA, UHON, ETSU 1000