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Memory Cards

A writer goes missing during a trip to Rwanda and Zanzibar. The only record of the journey survives in the footage she captured on a small camera and sent to her friend and lover, Tomé.  After years of obsessively trying to decipher the meaning of the footage, Tomé finally enlists the help of Pierre – the woman’s companion on the trip – and Liz – a TV producer who is considering turning the disappearance into a blockbuster. Watching the writer’s journey from the foot of the Virunga mountains, through film screenings in rural Rwanda and genocide memorials in the south of the country, to the surreal beaches of Zanzibar where the trail goes cold, each of the narrators grapples with the same question: did she really go missing or did she decide to disappear?

Memory Cards is an intimate story about memory and loss. It’s about the way images and their meaning depend on the beholder as much as the person who captured them. Indebted to the film-essay, and exploring the idea of found, reclaimed footage and personal archive, Memory Cards probes the boundary between documentary and fiction. Real-life images of Rwanda and Zanzibar are narrated by fictional characters, who talk about the journey of another fictional character. But the journey itself is real. It happened. Memory Cards challenges and subverts the clichés and stereotypes present in how Africa appears to Westerners, especially those who claim to know the continent very well – like the missing writer at the centre of the film. It questions why and how Africa becomes a backdrop for a Western story. Where does the filmmaker decide to point the camera, and for what reasons?

Best Lens Award at Afrykamera: International African Film Festival (Poland) 2016

In the official selection at Africa-in-Motion Film Festival (UK) 2015

In the official selection at Rwanda Film Festival 2015

In the official selection at 66th Montecatini International Short Film Festival (Italy) 2016


Matthew Flacks


Kate Walsh


Victor Klein

Directed, written and produced by

Piotr Cieplak

Editing and sound design by 

Romain Beck

Cinematography by

 Piotr Cieplak

Duration: 20 mins

Date of completion: April 2015

Image: Colour

Aspect ratio: 16:9

Shooting format: AVCHD

Screening format: DCP, DVD, Blu-ray, digital file

Language: English

Country of production: United Kingdom

Filmed in: Rwanda and Tanzania

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