When asked why the genocide continues to feature prominently in contemporary Rwandan cinema, renowned filmmaker Eric Kabera explains that in much the same way holocaust stories continue to be told, so will genocide stories.
Sunday had two poignant short films that tell the genocide story in a profound way. The protagonist in young Director Philbert Aime Mbabazi’s Akaliza Keza plummets into self-destruction when she learns that her fiancé concealed his Hutu identity from her. This during a visit to her prospective in-laws in which she discovers that her future father-in-law was the man that inflicted on her younger brother a cranial blow that left him mentally deranged. Now adult, he has the mind of a toddler playing with Lego toys and creating mud sculptures. In third trimester of pregnancy, Akaliza tries to abort her baby by imbibing a concoction of detergent and potent brew because she refuses to bring another Hutu into the world. y imbibing a concoction of detergent coupled with an alcoholic binge. Thankfully, the baby survives. But what stands out in Mbabazi’s short is his imaginative cinematic style that pays great attention to aesthetics. You rarely get such fine camera work in these parts especially with such a sobering subject.
Crossing Lines (29mins), the other notable genocide-themed short of the day, tells the intertwined story of a young Tutsi doctor and a Hutu man recently released from prison. The Tutsi doctor feels responsible for his sister’s death during the genocide. The Hutu man is haunted by the face of one of his young victims and is suicidal. The doctor numbs his post-genocide pain by injecting himself with drugs pretty much abusing syringes in the process. That he hangs his sister’s bloodied dress on a wall is a rather grim way to remember one’s loved one by. The Hutu man fresh from serving a 15-year jail sentence slits his veins and as a medic, the Tutsi survivor is compelled (by Hippocrates Oath guilt perhaps) to save the life of the now bleeding Hutu. It is the dialogue that follows that ought to earn Director Karemangingo Samuel Ishimwe a feather in his cap. “At least I wanted to die quickly which is why I slit my veins open. You are the coward because you choose to die slowly by injecting your veins with drugs,” the Hutu man tells the Tutsi doctor. That and the fact that we can hinge Rwanda’s cinematic future on these two young filmmakers are what made Sunday’s viewing delectable.
Text: MOSES SERUGO