Gacaca: Living Together Again in Rwanda?
In 1994, decades of politically motivated ethnic scapegoating culminated in a wholesale slaughter of the Rwanda’s Tutsi minority, along with many Hutu moderates. Vast numbers of ordinary citizens became killers - some willingly and some by force. More than 800,000 lives were taken, and the country was left in a state of devastation. Under a new government, Rwanda is rebuilding its physical and administrative infrastructure, but its most difficult task is to foster reconciliation between the Hutu and Tutsi. Venturing into the rural heart of the nation, GACACA, LIVING TOGETHER AGAIN IN RWANDA? follows the first steps in a bold experiment in reconciliation: the Gacaca (Ga-CHA-cha) Tribunals. The Gacaca Tribunals represent a remarkable democratization of justice for a people accustomed to dictatorial authority. The Tribunals offer a voice, and perhaps a therapeutic catharsis, to survivors. However, the system is fraught with potential pitfalls: minimally trained judges will be assigned complex cases, false accusations or confessions are possible, revenge or fear of revenge will affect testimonies, inconsistent application of the law, etc. The film crew was then present when the nearly 1,000 Rwandans were gathered for the first of a series of open-air "Pre-Gacaca" hearings, whose two-fold purpose is to clear the prisons of innocent detainees by public approbation, and to educate Rwandans about the Gacaca trials to come. Amidst a people renowned for their reserve, Anne Aghion spent six weeks recording the intertwining stories of survivors and prisoners, and their visions of the future. GACACA opens a chapter to a new era, and is an astonishing, intimate look at the strength of the human spirit. "The film captures quite precisely much of what is most compelling and unsettling about Rwanda’s quest for justice after genocide and, more: it captures the feel of Rwanda, the landscape, the texture of the place, the rhythm of speech and movement, the weird brilliance of colors amid the gloom of the spirit." - Philip Gourevitch, Author of We wish to inform you that tomorrow we will be killed with our families, Stories from Rwanda "Excellent… It lets Rwandans speak about the challenges of rebuilding a life, a sense of community, and a system of justice after atrocious violence…An excellent pedagogical tool for classes on Rwanda, on transitional justice, or on reconciliation and reintegration." - Peter Uvin, Director of the Institute for Human Security, Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University / Author of "Aiding Violence, the Development Enterprise in Rwanda" "Recommended. This is a fine film which will fuel many lively discussions not only on the issue of justice in Rwanda, but justice in the face of heinous crimes against humanity." - Educational Media Reviews Online "For someone studying the Rwandan genocide and reconciliation efforts, GACACA provides a view seldom seen." - Online Journal for Peace and Conflict Resolution 55 minutes. DVD.
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