Films joining raft of tools and projects laying healing hands

Sunday August 23 2020


A survivor living freely with neighbours who were once perpetrators of atrocities against her and her community. Picture: Pool 

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Towards unity and reconciliation, a stronger tool in Rwanda’s ongoing rebuilding, beyond the books, testimonies and speeches made before, films are an evolving and powerful tool in bearing witness to the country’s healing.

Rwanda: Portraits Du Pardon is one such film painting a clearer image of how the once perpetrators and survivors are treading the healing path after the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

Directed by Joel Karekezi, and co-produced by FABLABCHANNEL, the 50-minute, 18 second French documentary film, reflecting on forgiveness and life after the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

This initiative follows Portraits of Reconciliation, a photography project and exhibition by the Dutch arts organization Creative Court.

After being exhibited in The Hague, New York, and Tokyo in 2014, followed by Rwanda, where an exhibition was organised and was launched by the Goethe-Institute Kigali between March 30 and April 3, 2015.

Unlike the photography, this film animates the reconciliation journey, bringing to life what has before been documented in writing, and pictures. Subjects reflect what they feel and hold in relation to where they have been.


A scene of the 2014 International Conference “Genocide Prevention” in Brussels opens up the film, here Assumpta Mugiraneza, a psychologist, specializing in reconciliation and also a survivor testifies of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi’s horror.

This leads into on-ground interaction with Rwandans who witnessed the slaughter.

Set in Huye district in Rwanda’s Southern Province, among survivors and once perpetrators of the genocide, who now live peacefully together are captured, the film revisits, explores using vivid images of their moving on and their daily lives, despite coming from opposite sides of a tragic past.

Power of forgiveness

“He was concerned about the crimes he had committed when he felt disturbed, he came to see me, and confessed everything, which relieved both our hearts,” remarks Epiphanie, a survivor, who lost her uncle and brother.

“Many things have become possible for me; thanks to the forgiveness I received,” explains Francois, who was once a Hutu extremist.

He takes pride in the fact that he can now cross paths with persons he once hurt and doesn’t have to hide. “Working through it all, I understood how much forgiveness was helpful to me,” he adds.

Casarie, another survivor states how keeping one’s heart closed makes getting free harder. She also believes in prayer. “Present the situation to God.”

After confessing to being part of the massacre, Deogratias was pardoned from a jail sentence, something he hadn’t imagined. With him back home, and raising a son, he sees life anew.

Served with great narration and context of past and the present, the film premiered live from July 8 to August 4 pre on CANAL+ West + HD Centre.