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Kinyarwanda

Year: 2011
Production Co: Blok Box IMG
Director: Alrick Brown
Writer: Alrick Brown

If you're too young to remember or didn't take any notice of what was happening in Rwanda in early 1994, this movie is a great primer for what went on.

It tells the same story of life during a few days from several different angles. Firstly is a group of young urbanites in the capital of Kigali trying to do what young people do – have fun and fall in love – despite having gotten used to gunfire in the distance and gangs roaming the streets after curfew brandishing machetes.

There's a small squadron of RPF soldiers making their way back into Kigali to try and stop the Hutu gangs slaughtering everyone in their path, from the Tutsis to the other Hutu who are trying to protect them.

And there's a Christian priest and a Muslim Imam holed up together in the grounds of a mosque, scores of people in both their flocks under their protection and trying to keep it together inside while their bloodthirsty tormentors outside promise them of the horrors to come.

In the style of Gus Van Sant's Elephant and Australian film 2:37, the action weaves in between the characters, occasionally overlapping and putting them all in a temporal and spatial context, but also giving urgent clarity to how many people are affected by the chaos of war.

It's all told in bookend sequences in the present day which introduce some of the characters in a sort of reconciliation camp, telling their stories about how many people they tortured and killed and in some cases, facing former victims.

Even though it's all fiction, the low-fi performances and some of the pacing (such as the extended sequence of the mosque clerics meeting to decide how to address the genocide through the prism of their faith) make it seem more like a documentary, which makes a very powerful subject even more resonant. It's also the first film about the genocide from a Rwandan filmmaker.

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