Rwandan Genocide Films

100 days in April 1994 during which the Hutu majority in Rwanda slaughtered 800,000 people, members of the Tutsi population and any Hutus who objected to, or obstructed the killings. The tense peace between the two communities was shattered following the death of Hutu president after his plane was shot down on 6 April. Immediately the murder of Tutsis and Hutu moderates began, with systematic precision in identifying Tutsis (enabled by the Hutu government which categorised and recorded the status of Rwandans.) As neighbour murdered neighbour, women were tortured and massacred men, women, and children lay dead in the streets, the international community evaded launching military action. Following the withdrawal of Belgian troops the only force remaining in Rwanda was the under-staffed, under-equipped UNAMIR team led by Canadian General Roméo Dallaire. The sense of international abandonment, and the terror and chaos of the 100 days of violence permeate the cinematic portrayals of this subject.

 

A Sunday in Kigali (2006) Spring 1994. Kigali, Rwanda's capital city, deep in the heart of Africa. Bernard Valcourt is a man divided between hope and disillusionment. In Africa to shoot a documentary on the devastation weakened by AIDS, Valcourt watches on as tensions rapidly escalate between Tutsis and Hutus. At the Hôtel Des Milles Collines, home to expatriates, Valcourt falls in love with Gentille, a beautiful Rwandan waitress. In spite of their differences, Gentille and Valcourt marry; then war breaks out. Amidst the ensuing chaos the lovers are separated. Valcourt searches desperately for his wife, but because of his status as a foreigner, is forced to leave the country. (Directed by Robert Favreau.)

The Day God Walked Away (2009) Rwanda April 1994. During the first days of the genocide, westerners escape the country. Before being evacuated, a Belgian family finds a hiding place for Jacqueline, their young nanny, in the attic. Despite the horror taking place outside, Jacqueline leaves her hideout to find her way back to her village and her children, only to find their lifeless bodies among the dead. Cast out from her home and the village, hunted like an animal, she seeks refuge in the forest. (Directed by Philippe Van Leeuw.)

God Sleeps in Rwanda (2005) The 1994 Rwandan Genocide left the country nearly 70% female, handing Rwanda's women an extraordinary burden and an unprecedented opportunity. An inspiring story of loss and redemption, God Sleeps in Rwanda tells the story of women survivor's spirit to overcome the genocide's devastating legacy. The film follows five courageous women as they rebuild their lives, and, in doing so, redefine women's roles in Rwandan society and bring hope to a wounded nation. (Directed by Kimberlee Acquaro and Stacy Sherman.)

Grey Matter (Matiere Grise) (2011) A film-within-a-film by Kigali native director Kivu Ruhorahoza, following the efforts of Balthazar how is trying to make his film in post-conflict Rwanda and finding no support from the authorities who wish only to help politically agreeable people and their projects. (Kivu Ruhorahoza)

Hotel Rwanda (2005) is the true-life story of Paul Rusesabagina, a hotel manager who housed over a thousand Tutsi refugees during their struggle against the Hutu militia in Rwanda. Amidst the horrendous violence and chaos that swept the country, one of the many heroes to emerge was Paul Rusesabagina (Don Cheadle), an ordinary man who, out of love and compassion, managed to save the lives of 1268 people. The manager of a hotel, Paul offered shelter to these refugees at considerable risk to his own safety. (Directed by Terry George.)

Keepers of Memory (2005) African filmmaker Eric Kabera chooses to focus on the personal narratives of the survivors of the genocide in this film which highlights the efforts of those left behind in Rwanda to maintain the memory of the genocide and those lost in it. (Eric Kabera)

Kinyarwanda (2011) Six stories from the Rwandan genocide focusing on human relationships and morality during the horror. In spite of the hatred and violence the country is mired in, mosques become havens of safety and compassion for Muslims and Christians, Hutus and Tutsis alike. (Directed by Alrick Brown.)

Munyurangabo (2007) Two young Rwandan friends go on a journey to their places of birth in search of peace in a land torn apart by genocide. Munyurangabo seeks to avenge his dead father, who was killed during the genocide. Sangwa hopes to reconcile with his family along the way. The two boys are from different tribes and must overcome the bloodied history between Hutus and Tutsis along the way. (Directed by Lee Isaac Chung.)

Shake Hands with the Devil (2007) This documentary-style film revisits the horrific series of events which took place in Rwanda through the eyes Canadian Lieutenant General Roméo Dallaire, the United Nations General tasked with with maintaining peace in the beautiful, yet volatile, nation. Valiantly leading under-equipped and untrained troops, and hopelessly pleading with the UN in New York for reinforcements and revised rules of engagement, Dallaire was rendered powerless by his superiors, and the inevitable failure of the peacekeeping mission haunts him to this day. The film follows Dallaire's emotional journey, 10 years later, back to Rwanda. (Directed by Roger Spottiswoode.)

Shooting Dogs (2007) is based on the experiences of BBC news producer David Belton, who worked in Rwanda during the Rwandan Genocide. In the Ecole Technique Officielle, the Catholic priest Christopher and the idealistic English teacher Joe Connor lodge two thousand and five hundred Rwandans survivors in the school under the protection of the UN Belgian force and under siege of the Hutu militia. (Directed by Michael Caton-Jones.)

Sometimes in April (2005) is the  story of  two Hutu brothers: Honoré Butera, working for Radio Télévision Libre des Mille Collines, and Augustin Muganza, a captain in the Rwandan army, married to a Tutsi woman, with three children. The brothers bear witness to the killing of close to 800,000 people in 100 days while becoming divided by politics and losing some of their own family. (Directed by Raoul Peck.)

100 Days (2001)  As the Tutsi population of Kibuye run and fight for their lives, Josette, a young Tutsi woman hides in a church. Abused by the priest to pay for his silence, Josette emerges from the 100 days of genocide pregnant. Filmed at real sites from the genocide, 100 Days portrays not only the killing, but the struggle of the survivors to put their lives back together again afterwards. (Nick Hughes)

 

Film descriptions and synopses for A Sunday in Kigali; The Day God Walked Away; Kinyarwanda, and Munyurangabo sourced from Amazon USA (http://www.amazon.com/). Descriptions for Hotel Rwanda; Shake Hands with the Devil and Shooting Dogs, sourced from Amazon UK (http://www.amazon.co.uk/). Synopsis for God Sleeps in Rwanda and 100 Days from IMDb (http://www.imdb.com/), for Grey Matter fromhttp://catalogue.globalfilm.org

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