Born in Rwanda, Jo Ingabire Moys survived the genocide against the Tutsis before moving to the UK at the age of 14.
She began her film career as a commissioned writer for an independent project before working as an editor and consultant, later moving into production. She co-founded the Ishami Foundation, a charity that fights discrimination against refugees and immigrants.
Please tell us who you are and what you do, and where you’re from.
My name is Jo and I’m a writer/director. I’m based in London but currently working in Kigali, Rwanda.
Describe your life right now in a word or one sentence …
Tell us about your latest project …
My short film, BAZIGAGA, is a story about Karambe, a pastor who finds himself trapped with the local witch doctor, Bazigaga when the genocide breaks out in Rwanda in 1994.
Why did you feel that this was the right time for you to tell the story of Zura Karuhimbi?
It felt right to tell a story inspired by the exploits of Zula because there are still very few films out there that accurately portray what happened in Rwanda. Even less put a powerful woman at the centre of the narrative. I think it’s also important to show that in the midst of the horrors of the genocide, Rwandans saved each other when the world turned a blind eye.
Was it challenging for you to research and portray this story because of your own experience during the genocide?
It was difficult to engage with the story because this is the traumatic history of my people, my family. But Zula’s story is inspiring and life-affirming, it reminds us that there’s still good in humanity. Having lived through it all, I felt confident that I could be true to the story and create an authentic work which is everything with this kind of story.
How did you handle that during the filming process?
Most of the cast had been affected as well so we could support each other on set which is a rare and wonderful experience.
Is there a scene in the film which you feel really sums up what happened in Rwanda in 1994?
The scene where Bazigaga and Karambe listen to the radio broadcast that calls for the pastor’s murder encapsulated what happened for me. The radio was weaponised and used to spread propaganda while also intimidating Tutsis who had no way of escape. I wanted to convey the sense of helplessness we felt when we learned that the world had abandoned us and that no help from outside the country would be coming. That was a final sentence for many people. Many of those who had resisted up until that point gave up.
What’s your current plan B?
There is no plan B.
What’s made you Sad, Mad, Glad this week?
Sad – a story about a woman in her 60s struggling to afford basic groceries in The Guardian’s ‘Eat or Heat‘ diaries.
Glad – Ukraine retaking Kherson.
Mad – Learning that a security guard in Kigali eats once a day because of the global cost of living crisis.
What are you watching right now?
Handmaid’s Tale Season 5. Women in war settings seem to be what inspires me at the moment.
What are you reading right now?
Americanah, any Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
What are you listening to right now?
An Evening with Silk Sonic.
The last thing you saw on stage?
The scratch performance of a play I wrote called I am Leah.
What’s on your bucket list?
Working with Steven McQueen and fellow Rwandan-Brit Ncuti Gatwa on Dr Who.
Celebrate someone else – who do you rate right now?
Letitia Wright in Black Panther. Give her all the awards. She’s phenomenal.
Celebrate yourself – make us proud of you!
I just returned to work in my home country of Rwanda after living in the UK for almost 20 years, had a baby and now I’m doing press for my first film which has won awards and is Oscar qualified. I’m deliriously happy and completely exhausted.
Where can we find you and your latest projects?
Instagram – BazigagaFilm