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SUNDANCE REVIEW: Ambitious 'Kinyarwanda' Centers on 1994 Rwandan Genocide

The Bottom Line

Ambitious film about the Rwandan Genocide that tries to put the entirety of the tragedy into one package.

Section

World Cinema Dramatic Competition

Cast

Kennedy Mpazimpaka, Hassan Kabera, Abdallah Uwimann, Hadidja Zaninka, Marc Gwamaka, Jean Mutsari, Kena Anee Onyenjekwe

Director

Alrick Brown

The movie, competing in the world cinema dramatic section, Is the first feature to be produced by Rwandans.

PARK CITY – Kinyarwanda is the first feature film to be produced by Rwandans and focuses on the 1994 Rwandan Genocide. Weaving six different true stories of the human devastation during that horror, Kinyarwanda is a very ambitious film. Unfortunately, its attempt to synthesize the overall story of the genocide through these representative stories proves overwhelming.

Certainly, Kinyarwanda is an important film but in trying to impart the whole story of this horrific tragedy, the filmmakers resort to static discussion and explication. The importance of the subject matter and the power of the film are mitigated by numerous talking-heads discussion of the country's complex history, cultures and religion. In parts, it's like inserting a term paper on the Hutus and Tutsis into the diverse but interconnected story vignettes.

Although co-writers Alrick Brown and Ishmael Ntithabose have sagely selected stories that encompass a comprehensive spectrum of the human tragedy, the connective tissues of the personal narratives do not always congeal.

Most effective and hear-wrenching are the film's simpler stories, such as the taboo of inter-marriage between a Hutu and a Tutsi. Similarly, a segment involving a teen-aged girl whose parents are slaughtered imparts far more about the genocide than the numerous static discussions.

Throughout, filmmaker Brown presents these personal and heartbreaking stories with steadfast compassion. Brown is at is best in presenting tender personal moments, and it's those moments that transcend the film's compulsion to put everything about the horrible genocide into one well-intentioned film.

Technical credits are highlighted by composer John Jennings Boyd's powerful musical score, both fierce and gentle.

Section: World Cinema Dramatic Competition
Production: Visgoth Pictures in association with Cineduc Rwanda and Blok Bok IMG
Cast: Kennedy Mpazimpaka, Hassan Kabera, Abdallah Uwimann, Hadidja Zaninka, Marc Gwamaka, Jean Mutsari, Kena Anee Onyenjekwe
Director: Alrick Brown
Screenwriters: Alrick Brown, Ishmael Ntihabose
Producers: Darren Dean, Tommy Oliver, Alrick Brown
Executive producer: Ishmael Ntihabose
Director of photography: Daniel Vecchione
Production designer: Sibomana Omar Mukhtar
Music: John Jennings Boyd
Editor: Tovah Leibowitz
Costume designer: Emmanuel Ngoye
No rating, 96 minutes