LAB 2009-2010 > Yves Montand & Iris Olsson – Memory

Yves Montand & Iris Olsson – Memory

Yves Montand


Yves Montand Niyongabos family is from Rwanda. Yves himself was born and raised in exile in Burundi, but returned with his family returned Rwanda after the genocide in 1994. Growing up, Niyongabo won several creative-writing competitions. However, he didn’t see himself as an artist but as a lawyer. It took two years of law studies before a video workshop got his creative urge to come back tenfold. Film media is now his unconditional love and law is deselected. His latest short film 'Maibobo', produced, directed and edited by himself, was selected for the Rotterdam International Film Festival 2010. The genocide in Rwanda are obviously not going to escape from the young director, who writes: “100 days death / life was life / Everything went wrong / People were killed / People were tortured / As if God had condemned them / Everybody cried / Nobody helped / Nobody answered / But! / We are all created by God / Nobody is made of wood or stone / We need to love each other.”



Finnish Iris Olsson directed her first film when she was 13. She is the daughter of director Claes Olsson, and her interest in documenting the surroundings were aroused as early as elementary school. “On the time I did not even know what documentary was”, says the 28-year-old instructor today. Since then, Iris Olsson developed an exploring and empathic expression, as seen expressed in the short film ‘Between Dreams’. Here she filmed the sleeping or restless passengers in a train on the Trans-Siberian railway. As she lived into the train's special culture, she rejected the original plan to focus on passengers' hopes and dreams. Instead Iris Olson chose a more specific object in the form of the sleeper's actual dreams and the awake’s life stories. The result is a fascinating concentrate of human life as it unfolds on board a train between Moscow and Vladivostok - 'a very different society' with the director's own words. 'Between Dreams' got Special Jury Mention at the Nordic Panorama. Iris Olson is still reading at Helsinki University of Art and Design but has worked full time as an instructor the last year.




16 years after the most comprehensive genocide since the Second World War, Rwanda today is a country with scars that are so deep that it's hard to comprehend. Yves Montand and the Finnish director Iris Olsson try nonetheless, and they travel together through the central African republic, where the people are slowly beginning to trust each other again. But the memory of the massacre in 1994, where one sixth of the country's population was killed in three months, still casts a long shadow. School children are taught about the genocide and its causes: colonialism and the cynical leaders. And at nighttime, the people gather on the streets to sing and tell each other about the stories of the survivors. One long scene at the end of the film sums up the emptiness and the incomprehensible loss, and raises the question as to what the future has in store for the scarred country. A courageous film about the time that comes after.