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MAY 11-17

Q&A with “Life After Death” director Joe Callander

Director Joe Callander brings his acclaimed documentary Life After Death to the Little Rock Film Festival this weekend. The film follows the lives of two young men in post-genocide Rwanda. I asked him a few questions about Life After Death, which plays Saturday at 3:15pm and Sunday at 3:30pm at the Clinton School of Public Service.


What is a one-sentence synopsis of Life After Death?

Joe Callander: Kwasa and his sidekick Fils pick up odd jobs, listen to 2pac on a mobile phone, and work on their Kung-fu skills, twenty years after a genocide.

What drew you to this story and why was it important to you to make this film?

JC: I was in Rwanda doing some filming for a company called Saddleback Leather when I met Kwasa. He is an outrageous, hilarious and outgoing character, which was rare in the people I met over there. I was drawn to him and his best friend Fils immediately and I became obsessed with telling a kind of story I hadn’t seen come out of Rwanda before…a present day portrait about how things are now for the generation of people in their early 20’s that were born into the most horrific event of a generation.

What was your biggest challenge in making it?

JC: Central Africa is not an accommodating place to make a film in general. The power is unreliable, especially in rainy season. And I was in a situation where I was essentially working alone. I ran the camera and the sound by myself. Sometimes I would run a two camera setup and sound by myself. It was a wild way of working. The other huge issue I encountered was the language barrier. I wanted to make a portrait of these two friends, and I wanted to capture them interacting as naturally as possible. Often times that meant filming them for 20 or 30 minutes at a time, having no idea what they were saying to each other.

What do you hope audiences will leave the film talking about?

JC: I hope they leave smiling and with a full heart, talking about all the strange and wonderful characters they’ve just spent 75 minutes with, and maybe wondering how life can be so exhilarating, absurd, hilarious, and horrific, all at the same time.

Have you been to Little Rock or LRFF before? What are you looking forward to?

JC: This will be my first time in Little Rock. I’m looking forward to old friends and new friends in a new town.


By Cameron Zohoori