WHAT HOODLUM FILM FIXERS HAVE TO SAY ABOUT FILMING ON LOCATION IN BURUNDI
Burundi, officially the Republic of Burundi is a landlocked country in the Great Rift Valley at the junction between the African Great Lakes region and East Africa. It is bordered by Rwanda to the north, Tanzania to the east and southeast, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west. Lake Tanganyika lies along its southwestern border.
The climate of Burundi is equatorial in nature, marked by high mean annual temperatures, small temperature ranges, and rainfall throughout the year. The altitude allows for considerable daily variation in temperature and rainfall across the country. Burundi experiences its dry season between May and August, with a shorted dry season occurring between January and February. Its rainy season occurs between February and May, and September to November. The rainiest part of the country is the north-east; rainfall in higher areas can be almost double that of what is found on lower ground. Burundi’s generally high elevation produces relatively cool temperatures, with an average temperature of 21°C throughout the year in the central plateau. At lower areas, such as the capital, Bujumbura, and Lake Tanganyika, the average annual temperature increases slightly, to 23°C; while at higher altitudes, it decreases to 16°C. It is important to note that earthquakes, flash flooding and mudslides are common across the country from February to mid-May.
Bujumbura and Gitega, are Burundi’s capital cities, the former being the largest. The official languages of Burundi are Kirundi, French, and English, Kirundi being recognised officially as the sole national language. Virtually the entire population speaks Kirundi, and just under 10% speak French.
Burundi is a sovereign state, its political system is that of a presidential representative democratic republic based upon a multi-party state. Burundi’s currency is the Burundian franc (BIF). Monetary policy is controlled by the Bank of the Republic of Burundi, the central bank. You will need approval to take more than BIF2000 out of the country. Some businesses may accept US dollars or euros. ATMs are limited and unreliable. Most hotels and businesses don’t accept credit cards. Bank transfers in and out of the country may not be available.
Burundi’s latest update on safety, is to reconsider travel to Cibitoke and Bubzanza provinces, and border areas with the Democratic Republic of Congo, as these areas are currently high risk
Burundi offers a tax rebate of up to 15% for international filmmakers shooting in the country. Granted based on a minimum spend of BIF 300 million (+- $150 000).
WHAT OUR LOCAL FILM FIXERS HAVE TO SAY ABOUT FILM EQUIPMENT CLEARANCE, FILM PERMIT, VISAS, WORK PERMITS AND TRANSPORT WHEN FILMING ON LOCATION IN BURUNDI
General film permits
Filming in Burundi requires several permits and licenses, depending on the location and type of production. Permits can be applied for through the National Office of Tourism. The Burundi Film Authority regulates all filming activities in the country and issues permits for film and video productions. The authority also ensures that all productions adhere to Burundi’s laws and regulations on censorship and content classification. Typically, it can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months to get this paperwork. It is illegal to take photos of sensitive buildings in Burundi, photographing airports, military sites or government buildings is prohibited.
Film equipment clearance into the country
Burundi is not an ATA Carnet country and so our local film fixers require a list of the equipment with serial numbers and current market value of all film gear international film producer wish to bring into the country on a temporary import permit. As film gear is not available in Burundi the process to bring equipment into the country is simple.
Accreditation for international film crew
As this region is in the infant stages of developing its local film industry, its best to contact Hoodlum Film Fixers Burundi for the latest criteria for temporary work permits for international film crews wishing to film on location in the region.
Visas & Work Permits
You must get a visa to enter Burundi, this can be done via any Burundian diplomatic mission, before travel. The countries visa policy is strict, with visas only available upon arrival at the airport. Business and tourist visas can be obtained on arrival at Bujumbura airport and any land or maritime entry points. You can get a 30-day visa upon arrival at the Bujumbura Airport with a payment of USD90 for multiple entries and USD70 for a single entry.
Filmmakers from America and Europe can obtain their visas for filming in Burundi through the nearest embassy or consulate. They will need to provide a list of documents, including a passport with at least six months validity. Likewise, you’ll need a letter of invitation from a local Burundian organization or a production company that is filming in Burundi, a certificate of good conduct, and proof of yellow fever vaccination. The visa application process usually takes around two weeks to complete.
Film Location Permits for Burundi
Time, money, and the right approach will ensure most locations for the purposes of filming. Unauthorized filming, photography, or any other recording of government buildings, military installations, and critical infrastructures such as airports and border controls, is illegal. Penalties include arrest, fines and confiscation of your equipment.
Burundis transport network is limited and underdeveloped. Bujumbura International Airport is the only airport with a paved runway, serviced by four airlines: namely; Brussels Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines, Kenya Airways and RwandAir.
WHAT OUR LOCAL FILM FIXERS HAVE TO SAY ABOUT FILM LOCATIONS IN THE BURUNDI
One of the smallest countries in Africa, and one of the poorest in the world. Approximately 80% of Burundi’s population lives in poverty.
Burundi is home to biodiversity, including chimpanzees, baboons, buffaloes, hippos, and a wide range of birdlife. National Parks of interest include the Kibira and Ruvubu. National Reserves of interest include the Bururi, Rusizi, Rwihinda Lake, and Vanda. Saga’s white sand beaches on Lake Tanganyika and Kagera Waterfall are film locations of note. Burundis agricultural film locations include coffee, tea, sugarcane, and cotton plantations. Gitega, Burundis charming former capital offers vistas of beautiful mountain forests for a unique filming opportunity.
Burundi is an affordable location for filmmakers, ideal filming location for several reasons, diverse landscapes, rich cultural heritage, and a relatively unexplored location for film productions- filmmakers can capture unique and original footage that has not been seen before.
WHAT OUR LOCAL FILM FIXERS HAVE TO SAY ABOUT FILM CREWS, EQUIPMENT AND TALENT IN BURUNDI
Local film crews
Burundi has a small pool of local directors or directors of photography or stills photographers. Local supporting teams can assist with basic projects, most crew will need to be brought over from abroad. Kenya being the closest major production centre for experienced teams.
When it comes to filming equipment, Burundi has limited options available for rent or purchase. Basic cameras, lighting, and sound equipment can be rented from local suppliers, but for more specialized equipment, it may be necessary to import it from Nairobi, Kenya.
The Burundian talent pool is limited to African looks. The main ethnic groups in this region are the Hutu and Tutsi, all other looks need to be brought in from abroad.
Filmmakers should be mindful of cultural rules, Burundians have a deep respect for their culture and traditions, so it is important to show respect for them. It is customary to shake hands when greeting someone, it is considered rude to refuse a handshake. Burundians place great importance on family and community, as well as the concept of ‘ubuntu’, or the belief in the interconnectedness of all beings.