There have been a number of films made about the 1994 Rwandan genocide by well-intentioned Western filmmakers, but Kinyarwanda is the first to include meaningful involvement from artists and filmmakers from Rwanda itself. And unlike those other films, Kinyarwanda sheds light on the contribution of the Muslim community in keeping innocent people safe from conflict.
Based on real life events, the film (which won an Audience Award at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, as well as about a half dozen other laurels) centers on one of many mosques that became refuges for peace-seeking Tutsis and Hutus after the most respected Muslim leader in the country forbade his followers to kill.
Executive producer Ishmael Ntihabose envisioned the film and did much of the early leg work in researching the story, then brought along director Alrick Brown and a cast of Rwandan artists as first-time actors to put together the uniquely-told tale.
Kinyarwanda (named after Rwanda's most commonly-spoken language) is currently playing in New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Philadelphia and Seattle. In addition, the film, which is distributed by Ava DuVernary's AFFRM (African-American Film Festival Releasing Movement), opens in Washington, D.C., this Friday, December 9.
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(Photo: Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Sundance Film Festival)