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I HAVE SEEN MY LAST BORN

 

THE STORY
Marking their first directorial work in Rwanda since the award-winning narrative film, Munyurangabo, I Have Seen My Last Born tells the story of Jean Kwezi, a man who survived the wars that marked Eastern Congo and Rwanda in the 1980s and 1990s. As Jean navigates the roles of father and son, between the growing city center and the village tied to his past, his story reveals a country in transition.

The drama of the film takes place in the act of recollection, in the reassessment of history and the way in which that informs present daily life. Now 39 years old, Jean Kwezi was marked profoundly as a young adult by the 1994 genocide: separated from his family, taken to Kigali, only re-uniting with them a couple of years later, long after they had assumed him dead. Jean recounts the memory of a long family history shaped by migrations between the Congo and Rwanda, during which biological children were lost and adoptive children gained. This memory carries into the present through Jean's daily life in Kigali, where he works as a filmmaker and forges a relationship with a teenage daughter whom he abandoned in the years following the genocide.

The dramatic events of Jean's reunion with his parents and, much later, his daughter, have already taken place; but the deep emotions stirred by these remain present, as testified both by Jean's passion in recounting his decision to find his daughter and by the joy of his visit to his family's home. Each moment echoes the continuing power of these events and the vitality with which Jean has emerged from a dark past to live with a new purpose.

DIRECTORS' STATEMENT
We first collaborated in Rwanda on the feature Munyurangabo, shot in 2006. This has led us to many years of involvement in Rwanda, primarily centered on film education and the support of local film production. With time, our desire to see something more about the reality of the country through the concrete work of making a film increased, until we finally came upon a moment that seemed right. We wanted to tell a story that would situate the genocide in a larger context, and so were drawn to the idea of shaping a portrait of a close friend, Jean Kwezi, whose experience has cut a singular path through the country's recent history. Rather than seeking to capture the reality of the country on a grand scale, the portrait, through its intimacy, allows a picture to come into focus, as the background of this individual life, of the country in process.

Jean's situation, while utterly specific to Rwanda, reflects the experience of many throughout the world - he lives the tension between the city and the village; between a rapidly modernizing way of life on the one hand and a deeply traditional one on the other. On a personal level, his experience resonates beyond Rwanda, as he seeks to provide for his daughter things his neglect denied her in the past, and works with great purpose to play a role in shaping the future of his society. His deep consciousness of his past gives his decisions in the present a unique force. It is this force that we wanted to emerge, quietly, through a close collaboration with him as subject of this film.

In the days we spent with Jean, taking long drives, sharing meals, and spending time with his family, we were struck by the urgency of life to which his story bears witness. Though his circumstances have evolved, this urgency has remained unchanged. We are grateful that Jean shared such a spirit with us.

TRAILER

BIOGRAPHIES
Samuel Gray Anderson (co-director and producer) is a writer and filmmaker living in Gardena, CA with his wife Susan and son Theodor. He was born in Latrobe, PA, grew up in South Carolina, and studied English at Yale University. He is the co- founder of the production company Almond Tree Films, with which he has co-written and produced the feature films Munyurangabo (2007), Lucky Life (2010), and Abigail Harm (2012). His films have been official selections at the Cannes, Toronto, Berlin, and Tribeca film festivals, among many others.

Lee Isaac Chung (co-director and producer) grew up in Lincoln, Arkansas, a small town in the Ozark Mountains where his family owned a farm. He studied Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Yale and, after exposure to international cinema in his senior year, dropped plans for medical school to become a filmmaker.
His first film, Munyurangabo, premiered at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival to great acclaim. Variety called the film "an astonishing and thoroughly masterful debut" American critic Roger Ebert called it "a beautiful and powerful film - a masterpiece." His second film, Lucky Life, was developed at the Cinefondation at the Cannes Film Festival and premiered at the 2010 Tribeca Film Festival and 2010 Torino Film Festival. His third film, Abigail Harm, won the grand jury prize and best director at the LA Asian Pacific Film Festival. In recognition of his work, Isaac was awarded a USA Artist Ford Fellowship in 2012. He is based in Los Angeles, Hong Kong, and Rwanda.

Eugene Suen (producer) is a Taiwanese-American filmmaker and producer based in Los Angeles. Raised in Taipei and Chicago, he is a member of Almond Tree Films with Lee Isaac Chung and Samuel Gray Anderson, the team behind the award-winning Munyurangabo, an official selection at Cannes, Toronto, Berlin, and winner of the grand prize at AFI Fest. He produced Lee Isaac Chung's Abigail Harm starring Amanda Plummer and Will Patton, an official selection at Busan, Torino, and winner the Grand Prize and the Best Director award at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival. His other filmmaking credits include This Is Comedy, a French documentary about the filmmaker Judd Apatow. He is also the Co-Director of the Reel Spirituality film institute at Fuller Seminary.

CREDITS
Director Samuel Gray Anderson and Lee Isaac Chung
Cinematographer Lee Isaac Chung
Editor Samuel Gray Anderson
Producers Samuel Gray Anderson, Lee Isaac Chung, Eugene Suen, and Jean Kwezi

TECHNICAL DETAILS
Documentary Running Time 79 minutes
Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
Original Format HD
Screening Format 2K DCP or Blu Ray
Language Kinyarwanda and English
Subtitles English

DOWNLOADS
Press Kit (right click and save)
Still Images Zip File (right click and save)

CONTACT INFORMATION
For all inquiries:
email:info@almondtreefilms.com