Film emerges as storytelling medium

Nicole Kalisa, right, says she wants to tell stories that transform people’s lives. She’s encouraging other Rwandan women to use film to tell their stories, too.
As a Canadian, it’s easy to think Rwanda is a backwards, scary and even dangerous place. The central African country is best known for its horrendous 1994 genocide, in which approximately 800,000 people were violently murdered.

Also, due to graphic news reports, our most common impressions of any African country are starving children, bloody wars, and the most desperate living situations.

Similarly, it’s easy for Rwandans to believe all Canadians are rich. The Westerners they see typically drive or are chauffeured in expensive Land Rovers, wear flashy jewelry and could obviously afford a plane ticket, which for many Rwandans costs an impossible amount.

But every Canadian knows not everyone here has unlimited amounts of money.

Likewise, though their country has a bloody history, the majority of Rwandans feel their country is safe, stable and a wonderful place to live and visit.

But teaching strangers what life is like on

the other side of the world, even on the other

side of their country, is tough – unless film is involved.

In a small residential neighbourhood in Kigali, the capital city of Rwanda, stands a modest sign that reads “Rwandan Film Festival.” The sign graces the driveway of a simple, two-storey house with a small kitchen and living room downstairs, and three rooms upstairs, each with one or two computers.

Though average in appearance, this place is the contrary. The simple urban home is a hub and catalyst for powerful personal and professional growth. This building is the Rwanda Cinema Centre (RCC).

Founded in 2002, the RCC aims to facilitate film and video production.

“The main objective is to create a filmmaking culture in Rwanda. That wasn’t existing before 1994 (the year of the genocide),” explained the centre’s operations coordinator Pierre Kayitana. “The second objective is to train young Rwandans who are taking actions to make a difference.”

The RCC strives to explore a wide range of issues in its films and raise awareness about local and global development issues. Though the movies produced are entertaining, they carry a deeper message.

The RCC runs two major ongoing projects to accomplish its objectives.

The first is the Youth by Youth film workshops, short intensive courses that teach young people the basic skills needed to create a film including scriptwriting, directing, acting, and sound production. At the end of the course, workshop participants produce any number of films.

“Most of the films are low budget but very good,” said Kayitana. “So many stories to be told, so many stories to be shown.”

He who himself is only 22, added, “These young people are the future of Rwanda.”

The centre also hosts the annual two-week long Rwanda Film Festival, nicknamed Hillywood because Rwanda is known as the country of a thousand hills.

The event takes place this year between March 16 and 30.

The local festival plays movies about Rwanda produced by the youth workshop participants as well as educational films from around the world. One week is spent showing the films in various venues in Kigali, while the other is spent travelling throughout Rwanda’s rural countryside, showing the films to villagers. Many have never seen a movie before.

The international films are meant to expose locals to what life is like elsewhere. The local films teach Rwandans about other Rwandans, with the idea that more knowledge will lessen the potential for future conflict.

People never used to leave the place they were born and so knew nothing about people in the rest of the country. That is part of what brought us to the genocide, Kayitana said.

The response to the festival been incredible with some audiences as large as 10,000, he added.

In addition to showing the Rwandan films locally, various RCC filmmakers have shown their films in other festivals in Africa, Asia and North America and have had a great reception.

“We need people to watch films for the world exposure,” Kayitana said. “Films can unite people in a world divided by borders, war and so many conflicts.”

While the number of filmmakers in Rwanda is low – likely less than a hundred – the number of women involved in the industry is even lower, almost non-existent.

“It’s not normal,” explains 23-year-old Nicole Kalisa, who has helped produce several movies, acted in one, and is now in the process of editing her first film.

Women are encouraged to stay home and take care of children, she said. But not her.

After Kalisa took one of the Rwanda Cinema Centre’s youth workshops in November 2005, she quit studying mathematics at the Kigali Institute of Technology and started working at the centre as the executive assistant to its operations coordinator, Pierre Kayitana.

“I felt I was a more creative person, more of an entrepreneur,” Kalisa said. “I want to film and direct movies. I want to tell stories that can transform people’s lives.”

So that’s what she is doing, beginning with the topic of women’s issues.

“Many times in films, we see women waiting for a man, waiting for a saviour, but it’s not like that. I’d like to tell stories that show the real impact of women in society,” she said.

Her first film addresses domestic violence. The movie is 15 minutes long and does not yet have a name.

“We see (the situation) from the perspective of a child and see the impact the abuse has on the whole family,” she said. “This is something we need to talk loudly about and look for solutions.”

But Kalisa does not want to go about it alone.

So along with her many endeavours, Kalisa is also helping organize a group of women filmmakers. She is encouraging females like her to overcome their shyness as she did and share their stories and thoughts.

Her advice – “Don’t talk too much. Just do it.”

Holiday Inn – The Business Guys – Toothbrush (2006) :30 (USA)

Agency: Fallon, Minneapolis
CD: Roger Camp / Copywriters: Paula Maki & Tom Sebanc / AD: Michael Rogers
Director: Tim Godsall, Biscuit Filmworks
Editor: Jim Hutchins, HutchCo Technologies, Inc.
Business Guys: Nat Faxon, Roy Jenkins & Jerry Lambert

 Holiday Inn Hotels Begins Multi-million-dollar Marketing Campaign
that Asks Guests to “Look Again” at the Brand
Campaign Targets Generation X and Baby Boomers


ATLANTA, June 7, 2006 – Holiday Inn® Hotels and Resorts, the world’s most recognized hotel brand, announces a comprehensive multi-million-dollar integrated marketing campaign that asks guests to “Look Again” at the brand.Through independent research conducted by strategic brand consultancy Landis Global Market Research, Holiday Inn found that the four features most important to business travelers are

  1. free High Speed Internet,
  2. comfortable in- room work spaces,
  3. full-service meeting facilities
  4. and a robust loyalty program.

Holiday Inn offers each of these core business amenities; however, research revealed most business travelers more closely associate Holiday Inn with its heritage as a family leisure hotel and amenities like the hotel pool. The Look Again campaign aims to round-out consumer perceptions of the brand so they view it as a first option for business travel as well as leisure.”The campaign reinforces the strengths of today’s Holiday Inn and prompts guests to ‘Look Again’ to see how the iconic brand they think they know has continued to evolve to meet their needs,” said Mark Snyder, senior vice president of Brand Management for Holiday Inn Hotels and Resorts in the Americas. “The emphasis on elements like free high-speed Internet access or comfortable, modern in-room workspaces, for example, may seem fundamental on the surface, but for a brand with a legacy and character like Holiday Inn, they are more meaningful,” he added. “Holiday Inn has a history of leading the industry in innovation, and we want to make sure we take this opportunity to shout it from the rooftops — something we typically have not done.”

The primary target of the campaign is what the brand defines as the “modern everyday hero,” a blended attitudinal segment that spans Generation X and Baby Boomers. With an existing 100 percent brand awareness, virtually everyone in the target segment has stayed at a Holiday Inn, yet the Landis research revealed these consumers may perceive Holiday Inn exclusively as a family leisure hotel and Holiday Inn’s full-service business amenities may not be top-of-mind.

The “Look Again” campaign includes, in part, traditional print and broadcast advertisements. The comprehensive campaign also includes interactive online and engagement marketing elements, which have been proven to be successful in reaching the highly coveted Gen-X market.

Broadcast Advertising

In its first sustaining broadcast advertising campaign since 2002, Holiday Inn takes a humorous look at life on the road for today’s business travelers. The commercials from Fallon Minneapolis highlight the brand’s key business travel amenities and services, like free high-speed Internet access and Priority Club Rewards, through the eyes of three typical American coworkers at varying levels of experience: Ted, Marcus and Zack, collectively referred to as “The Business Guys.”

The ads chronicle the antics and interactions of the three coworkers in everyday business travel circumstances. In one ad, the two older “Business Guys,” Ted and Marcus, are in the hot tub when Zack enters, sits too close and breaks the understood rule of proper spacing in “hot tub etiquette.” In another, Ted and Marcus chide Zack for his lack of Priority Club Rewards points and flaunt the eccentric purchases they have made using points, such as a unicycle and gold golf clubs.

“We can all relate to these guys. They are the consummate road warriors who have developed a unique relationship from spending so much time together while traveling on business,” said Roger Camp, group creative director for Fallon Minneapolis. “And while the examples we use are funny, odd and twisted, what makes it endearing is that it’s all strangely relatable at the core. Let’s face it — we all have those business travel ‘war stories,’ and what better brand to celebrate these moments than Holiday Inn?”

The stars of the commercials were recruited from comedy troupes like the acclaimed Groundlings for their ability to improvise and enhance the loosely- scripted commercials. For the two Major League Baseball-themed spots, however, Holiday Inn looks to the sports arena for inspiration and features Emmy Award winning MLB play-by-play announcer Joe Buck interacting with the Business Guys as they do their best to mimic his legendary voice.

“The highly targeted, high frequency media rotation will allow consumers to get to know the personalities and nuances of our three “Business Guys” in a way that can only add to the level of humor,” added Camp. “We’ve created a platform with this campaign to showcase that Holiday Inn is the smart choice for business travel through the characters’ fun, humorous interactions.”

The suite of eight, 30-second broadcast spots will debut nationwide June 10 and will air during Major League Baseball and NASCAR coverage on ESPN, ESPN 2, FOX, FX and TNT through November 15, complementing the brand’s engagement marketing partnerships.
Interactive Marketing

The new Web sitelet that supports the campaign,, provides visitors an opportunity to interact with “The Business Guys” and take a somewhat voyeuristic view of their lives and experiences at Holiday Inn.

The Web site turns the traditional online hotel room tour on its head by enabling visitors to explore the hotel through the eyes of Zack as he produces his own version of a celebrity home tour. He highlights the amenities and services at Holiday Inn, bragging as if they were created just for him. On the tour, visitors can view his “personal hot tub” and his guest room “where the magic happens.”

To keep guests engaged, the site will continue to evolve and provide more interactive experiences for visitors on subsequent visits. For example, playing off the broadcast commercial, the site will include an interactive “Hot Tub Etiquette” game where visitors maneuver the characters to ensure they maintain appropriate distances from each other.

Engagement Marketing

The recently announced NASCAR Busch Series and Major League Baseball sponsorships take the “Look Again” campaign directly into the lives of consumers. These partnerships are examples of Holiday Inn’s engagement marketing strategy designed to build consumer advocates and ensure the legacy brand remains relevant to future generations of guests.

By becoming the “Official Hotel of Major League Baseball,” Holiday Inn plans to reach consumers through print and broadcast ads, as well as unique in-stadium promotions such as “Look Again” instant replays and branded Holiday Inn “‘Look Again’ Towel Days.” The sponsorship will be brought to life through a robust activation using interactive elements like the Priority Club Rewards online auction. The auction, which debuted May 26, offers visitors the chance to bid on unique memorabilia, travel and MLB experiences. Auction items range from MLB Authentic Collection jerseys to tickets to post-season games and the MLB(TM) All-Star Game, including four on-field VIP passes to watch batting practice. Auction items will be updated monthly to ensure ongoing interest.

The newly branded “Look Again” No. 29 Holiday Inn Chevrolet with driver Jeff Burton and Richard Childress Racing taps into the loyal and growing base of 75 million NASCAR fans. Burton drives in 10 Busch Series races this year, and the show car tours the country to provide race fans an up-close-and- personal Holiday Inn Racing experience.

About Holiday Inn

Holiday Inn Hotels & Resorts is part of the InterContinental Hotels Group family of brands with global headquarters in the U.K. and Americas headquarters in Atlanta. With more than 1,400 properties worldwide and nearly 1,000 in the U.S., Holiday Inn is the most recognized lodging brand in the world and certainly the most iconic.



Contact:InterContinental Hotels Group