USA/Rwanda, 2011, 100 min
As spring turned to summer in 1994, a cross section of Rwanda’s Hutu ethnic majority murdered nearly one million minority Tutsis. Alrick Brown’s unconventional and surprisingly uplifting debut feature takes its name from the common language shared by both ethnic groups, and tells the tale of the Rwandan genocide and subsequent reconciliation process through a series of parallel and overlapping narratives from a variety of Tutsi and Hutu perspectives. Together, these stories—based on true accounts—form a resonant portrait of human resilience during those horrible days. The spiritual leader of Muslims in Rwanda issued a fatwa forbidding violence and opened the gates of the Grand Mosque of Kigali to all comers, be they Tutsi, Hutu, Christian or Muslim. This heretofore little-known act of courage and compassion anchors Brown’s compelling narrative, which follows a variety of ordinary Rwandans during the rampage as they make their way toward the safety of the mosque. Brown’s deeply felt portraits of a soldier, a small child, a pair of teenage sweethearts, a Tutsi/Hutu couple, a priest and an imam give Kinyarwanda an element of emotional complexity that other films on the Rwandan genocide have lacked. Conceived and produced by Rwandans, it also tells the story of the aftermath, when victims and perpetrators traversed the thorny path of reconciliation in neighborhood Gacaca courts to sit, discuss, mediate, confess and often forgive. Kinyarwanda plumbs the depths of terror to offer a testament to the human spirit’s capacity for love, healing and transcendence.
In English and Kinyarwanda with subtitles. Special support for this program generously provided by Visionary Circle member Rudi Dundas. Presented in association with International Justice Central. New Directors Prize Contender.