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UKScreen Rating:

What is it about?

The film tells the 1994 Rwanda’s genocide as witnessed by a young English teacher, Joe Connor (Hug Dancy), who has come to teach at Father Christopher’s (John Hurt) school, Ecole Technique Officielle, where also the UN forces are stationed to monitor the fragile peace between Tutsis and Hutus.
This peace is shattered when the Hutu president of Rwanda is assassinated. Immediately thereafter, the Hutu launch deadly attacks against the Tutsi people, who in turn flee their houses and seek sanctuary at the School, believing that they will be protected by the UN. This protection doesn’t last for long and the end, as we know it now, is horrifically tragic.

How is it like?

Based on a true story, this film is as powerful as “Shindler’s list”, the only difference is that the victims here are Black African and hence it might not receive as much attention. Because for us ,in the west, as the BBC journalist in the film eloquently put it “they are just dead Africans”, which, I believe adds to the necessity to make such films and urge people to watch them, for the film has successfully managed to initially introduce us to the human face of the dead Africans (mothers, fathers, children, pregnant women, elderly) before they were humiliated and butchered in front of our eyes. We didn’t do anything about it 12 years ago, because we didn’t care about people who don’t look like us, whose skin is black. Again, the film points out this fact powerfully, when the French Forces enter the school to evacuate the “Whites”, making sure that none the of terrified blacks is permitted on the vehicles. A black man, a husband of a white woman, is kicked out and not allowed to join his wife, despite her desperate pleas to let him join her.
The film makers deserve an accolade for making such a powerful film, but they, like most western film makers who make films about Africa, have failed to create rounded Black characters who develop in the script like the white characters.
Even if you are not interested in Rwanda, the film offers a thrilling cinematic experience. The script is solid, filled with emotional moments and pinned by interesting characters and a gripping plot. The performance of the actors is also outstanding.
The film was shot at the actual location of where this story took place, which also adds to its authenticity and emotional power.

Nationwide Release 31 March 2006

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