Meet Lionel Nishimwe, The Award-Winning Director Who Is Putting Burundi on the Map of African Cinema — Episode 1: An Overview


He is a painter, a photographer, and a fashion model. Amongst all those talents, he nourishes a passion for the seventh art. An art through which he gave birth to a masterpiece of film worthy of the greatest screens. A film that has already awarded him international acclaim and recognition. A film that tells a story of love, loss, and hopes amid a global crisis. He is Lionel Nishimwe, the award-winning director putting Burundi on the map of African cinema.

“Une Vie En Couleurs” (A Colorful Life) is a touching and realistic drama that follows Sarah and Phil, a married couple who must cope with Sarah’s terminal illness during a pandemic. The film explores their emotions, fears, and hopes as they face the inevitable. It also illustrates their efforts to grasp their remaining time together by creating colorful memories and celebrating their love.

Nishimwe wrote, directed, and produced Une Vie En Couleurs with a low budget and a small team. He cast his friends Laura Sheïlla Inangoma and Jean Rige Nkurunziza as the main actors, who delivered remarkable performances. The film was shot in Bujumbura, his hometown.

The film has received rave reviews from critics and audiences alike. Based on seven user reviews, it has a 9.7 out of 10 on IMDb. One reviewer wrote: “A good short film, a good story, a good message with this short film, we see that it’s an immersion in the lives of people with cancer, sadness, loneliness, incomprehension, … it’s very inspiring.”

Apart from capturing the hearts and souls of Burundians at FESTICAB, the essence of this film seized the international stage. Last February, Lionel showcased it to the world at the Mashariki Film Festival in Rwanda and the Luxor African Film Festival in Egypt. He is now spreading his wings to conquer more territories.

The film has also been nominated for two prestigious international film festivals: the Souss International Short Film Festival in Morocco in May and the Festival Internationale de Cinéma Vues d’Afrique in Canada. These nominations testify to Nishimwe’s talent and vision as a filmmaker.

Nishimwe says he is proud to represent his country and to showcase its potential through his film. Though he does not see himself as a role model per se, he hopes to inspire other young Burundians to pursue their dreams and passion. He also plans to make more feature films.

Une Vie en Couleurs is a masterpiece of African cinema that deserves to be seen and appreciated by everyone. It is also a reminder that life is precious and colorful, even in the darkest times.

Note: This is the first part of a series of articles on Lionel Nishimwe, Burundian director and screenwriter. The second part, “A Conversation with Lionel Nishimwe,” shall explore different perspectives related to Burundian filmography.


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