The Lion of Teranga

Joel Karekezi
Rwanda - France - Belgium - Senegal

Synopsis

In the early 1990s, Senegalese Captain Mbaye Diagne is transferred from his homeland to Kigali, Rwanda, in the midst of its raging ethnic civil war. Deployed as an unarmed UN observer, he is a member of the UNAMIR peacekeeping force tasked with implementing a power-sharing agreement between the Hutu government and the rebel Tutsi-led Rwandan Patriotic Front. Mbaye tries to warn his superiors that a genocide is brewing, but all his attempts are futile, and the massacres begin. In defiance of the danger and his orders, he risks his own life by making countless journeys to transport war victims in his jeep, passing through deadly checkpoints to deliver his passengers to the few safe spaces in the capital.

Fiction
Production

Tact Production (France)
Oualid Baha
[email protected]

Co-production

Karekezi Film (Rwanda)
Joel Karekezi

Neon Rouge (Belgium)
Aurélien Bodinaux

Indigo Mood (Senegal)
Katy Ndiaye

Director’s statement

What touches me about the character of Mbaye is his ability to rebel against all expectations, to regain his judgement and his free will (when, in fact, he is a soldier whose function is to obey) in a moment of intense crisis when unquestioning obedience is expected of him. He refuses to do so in the name of his values, very simple in concept, but very powerful when applied. He is a man who does not ignore the risks he takes and who knows the consequences for him will be tragic. A man who takes a precise leap of humanity in an atmosphere where neither reason nor compassion exist. Nonetheless, I have no desire to present Mbaye as a superhero, as he was not a mythical figure who was inaccessible to ordinary people. To me, he is just a regular man, though one who acts with heroism at times through simple actions and gestures. It is through these that he commits himself.

Biographies

Joel Karekezi
Joel Karekezi
Director

After graduating as a director from the Cinecours film school in 2008, Joël Karekezi shot his first short film The Pardon (Le Pardon) in 2009 with the help of the Maisha Film Lab. His first feature film Imbabazi (Le Pardon) won awards at the Luxor African Film Festival and the International Images Film Festival for Woman in 2014. While in development, The Mercy of the Jungle (La Miséricorde de la Jungle) won the CFI award for most promising project in the Durban Film Market. After it was completed, the film won the Grand Prize Golden Stallion of Yenenga at the FESPACO 2019, awards at the Chicago International Film Festival, PAFF and won four awards at the Africa Movie Academy Awards in 2019.

Oualid Baha
Oualid Baha
Producer

Oualid Baha studied production at the Institut National de l’Audiovisuel and film law and economics at the Sorbonne. After experience with organising and programming film festivals, he joined Tact Production as an associate producer. There, he developed and produced several projects including Joel Karekezi’s The Mercy of the Jungle, which won the Golden Stallion of Yennenga at Fespaco. In 2022, Freedom, Money, a Story of CFA Franc, a documentary by Katy Lena Ndiaye, had its premiere at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam. He continues his collaboration with Ndiaye and his transition to fiction films with the project Lënde

Total budget

€1 812 000

Financing secured

€22 500

Partners attached

OIF, Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles, Usage du monde

Shooting period and locations

2022, Senegal and Rwanda

Expected delivery

First semester 2023

Looking for

Co-producers (Germany, Canada, Norway), distributors, broadcasters, international sales

Other Projects in development