We’ve seen some powerful, horrifying films about the war in Rwanda. But we’ve never seen anything like this—a film made with the help of Rwandans, informed by their own experiences, and performed in their own language.
Sangwa’s a prodigal son of the Hutu. He’s come back to the family farm after three years in the city, only to find his father furious and reluctant to forgive. It doesn’t make things easier that Sangwa’s brought a friend along with him—’Ngabo, a boy from the Tutsi people. Watching Sangwa’s family, ’Ngabo is reminded of all that he lost in the war between the Rwandan peoples. This only fuels his determination to journey on from there, machete in hand, to find and kill the man who slaughtered his family.
An American filmmaker who grew up in South Korea, Lee Isaac Chung made this film in order to teach young Rwandans the craft of filmmaking. It’s a work of selflessness and service, a mournful and beautiful work of art that is poetic, meditative, powerful. (Roger Ebert called it “a masterpiece.”) The actors, voices, scenes, stories—even the jokes—come from the people who live there. As Chung paints authentic pictures of today’s Rwanda, he resists the temptation to conclude on a note of false hope. Reconciliation in this blood-soaked country will be a very steep climb indeed, a process of daily forgiveness.
— Jeffrey Overstreet