From the director of The War Tapes comes a powerful new film that looks at the horrific 1994 genocide in Rwanda from both personal and political perspectives. On August 6, 2008, against the backdrop of the world's deadliest war in neighboring Eastern Congo, Rwandan President Paul Kagame released a report detailing the French government's hidden role in planning the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Three months later, his closest aide, Rose Kabuye, was arrested by France on charges of terrorism.
Meanwhile, Jean Pierre Sagahutu, a genocide survivor haunted by his father's unsolved murder, scours the Rwandan countryside on a 15-year-search for clues and ultimately finds himself confronted with his darkest desire: being face-to-face with his father's killer. As President Kagame fights to free Rose from France and expose the truth about what really happened in Rwanda 15 years ago, Jean Pierre journeys to the scene of the crime, and the doorstep of a killer, to uncover the chilling facts behind his father's death. As each relentlessly pursues the truth—with the fate of a family and a country hanging in the balance—they find themselves faced with a choice: enact vengeance or turn the other cheek…. Deborah Scranton crafts this dark material into an inspiring and uplifting examination of the search for truth beyond justice and the long road to redemption in Rwanda.
Director's Statement Collapse
"The Truth will pass through the fire, but will not burn."
When you start a film, the journey that awaits you can never be fully imagined. After five years of working on two acclaimed films about the war in Iraq (The War Tapes, Bad Voodoo's War), my mind was beset by some unanswered questions. What remains after war ends? How can anyone forgive the murderers of a loved one? How do you break the cycle of violence? Is forgiveness enough to release a country from its past? What constitutes such forgiveness?
Contemplating telling the story of what happens after genocide ends, I had some trepidation. The horror narratives coming out of Rwanda had been so bleak, the violence so appalling, the hatred so chilling. On May 1, 2008 I found myself seated next to the President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, at a small dinner in his honor. As we spoke for several hours, he revealed himself to be warm, patient, and determined to bring his country out from its nightmare. He told me that Rwanda is choosing a different path, between the justice of accountability and reconciliation. It brought to mind all the other areas of conflict around the world mired in endless cycles of violence and retribution without end. And my trepidation turned into resolve.
Once President Kagame agreed to grant us unprecedented access and become one of the main characters of the film, there was no turning back. I had to make this film. As it turned out, I had no expectation how prescient the timing would be….
Our production team (cinematographer P.H. O'Brien, producer Reid Carolin, and I) arrived in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, and over the next year returned there two more times.
On August 6, 2008, against the backdrop of the world's deadliest war in neighboring Eastern Congo, President Kagame released a report detailing the French government's hidden complicity in the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Three months later France arrested his closest aide, Rose Kabuye, on charges of terrorism. As filmmakers we suddenly found ourselves immersed in one of the greatest political thrillers of the time.
As President Kagame fought to free Rose from France and expose the truth about what really happened in Rwanda 15 years ago, we also wanted to contrast what life was like for ordinary Rwandans who searched for a better future. Jean Pierre Sagahutu, a genocide survivor haunted by his father's unsolved murder, has roamed the countryside on a 15-year search for clues. We accompanied him on the journey as he tracked down and confronted one of his father's killers.
As President Kagame and Jean Pierre each pursue the truth—with the fate of a family and a country hanging in the balance&mdash they find themselves confronted with the same choice: to enact vengeance or turn the other cheek….
Though they never met, the President and an ordinary man become inextricably linked in our film. We learn that above all else, the need for truth becomes paramount. Without truth, there can be no forgiveness. As Jean Pierre defines forgiveness, "The hatred and violence stops with me, I will not pass it down to my children." For him, forgiveness doesn't mean forgiving the killers. It means stopping the cycle of hate.
There is a conscious, disciplined approach to stop the hate in their own generation, now, not over time. Now. This is an internal choice that need not involve anyone else. The process demands great sacrifice if only for our children's sake. This is a lesson Rwanda can teach the world.
Former president Bill Clinton has discussed how Israel and Palestine could draw lessons from Rwanda. The survivors, he said, sought reconciliation, not vengeance. They do this work of reconciliation "with people who killed them and their loved ones because they couldn't get away from each other; it's a little place, and they
Cast & Credits Collapse
Primary Cast H.E. President Paul Kagame, Jean Pierre Sagahutu, Rose Kabuye, Serge Sagahutu, Gaspard Bavuriki
Director Deborah Scranton
Producer Deborah Scranton, Reid Carolin
Associate Producer Kate Walker
Director of Photography P.H. O'Brien
Executive Producer Channing Tatum, Jenna Dewan
Composer Johan Soderqvist
Special Note Collapse
Monday, April 26, 6:00 PM
@BMCC Tribeca PAC
We are delighted to announce that His Excellency President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, one of the subjects of the film, will be in attendance at the World Premiere, and will also participate in the Q&A following the screening.
Tuesday, April 27, 3:00 PM
@ SVA Theater 1
After the Movie: Join director Deborah Scranton, producer Reid Carolin, and subject of the film Jean Pierre Sagahutu for a conversation about taking the truth beyond justice and finding reconciliation in Rwanda, Africa, and the world. Moderated by Jeff Chu, Articles Editor for Fast Company