was reared on a diet of 1980s action thrillers and Hollywood B-movies. Growing up in the Rwandan capital of Kigali, a bucolic city of jacaranda trees and terraced hills, he dreamed of becoming a filmmaker and working with the larger-than-life stars he saw on TV: action heroes including Arnold Schwarzenegger
and Jean-Claude van Damme who swaggered across the screen, guns blazing.
The 9,000-mile flight from Rwanda to Hollywood is a day’s journey, but in an impoverished African country with no formal film schools, it could seem no less daunting than a flight to the moon. Yet Ishimwe was determined. Orphaned by the 1994 genocide that claimed more than 800,000 lives, he’d watched his country rebuild from the rubble.
Despite the physical devastation and emotional trauma wrought by the genocide, “I had hope in my heart,” he says.
After finishing high school and getting his first job as a journalist,