Canadian filmmaker provides hope

Rwanda documentary hosted by STAND, SRHIR

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Rwanda: Hope Rises

The Rwandan Genocide of 1994 resulted in the brutal murders of approximately one million men, women and children. Disturbing facts like this make it challenging for the average North American to look past the tragedy of the event, but with his latest documentary film Rwanda: Hope Rises, Canadian filmmaker Trevor Meier provides a more hopeful perspective of the country.

Shot over a period of three years beginning in 2005, Meier’s film goes beyond statistics and focuses on the actual individuals who were affected by one of the greatest tragedies of the past century.

The film profiles Nicholas and Elsie Hitimana, a Hutu and Tutsi respectively " two Rwandan citizens who married just a year before the genocide took place and escaped death at the hands of the militias.

“The struggle [the Hitimanas] had gone through as a family after they escaped, and then the work they were doing to help other people go through the forgiveness process and rebuild Rwanda is what inspired me to make the film,” Meier says.

Trevor Meier

“They wanted to tell their story because they felt that it would help.” Meier stressed that one main theme of the film is how Nicholas and Elsie came back to Rwanda to help, even after they had originally vowed never to return.

Tonight starting at 7 p.m., Western organizations, Students Taking Action Now: Darfur and Students Rebuilding Health in Rwanda, are partnering to present Canada’s first screening of Meier’s film at the Wolf Performance Hall.

“[Looking over the film’s synopsis] I quickly realized that the storyline and perspective were unique and clearly different than other documentaries discussing Rwanda,” comments Tyler Goetell, member of STAND. “Much of Western media coverage and academic study on the 1994 genocide involves discussion and debate on foreign intervention and the lack of response from the international community.”

A group of Rwandan children work on a farm in 2005.

Goetell acknowledged that this discussion is important, but saw a need to “shine a light on a perspective often not considered.”

STAND and SRHIR are holding this event to inform the public that there can be other, more inspiring outlooks on Rwanda.

“Promoting a film which tells the story of Rwanda’s restoration and healing is important to us and we hope that by raising awareness, as well as our fundraising efforts, we can help with Rwanda’s healing,” Joanne Leung of SRHIR says.

Meier himself will be present at this screening and will be taking questions from the audience after the film. He explains why the students of Western in particular will benefit from attending this event.

“[My documentary] is a film that is Rwandans telling their story, but it’s done in a way that we can relate to and understand. There’s a core message here that applies: it’s not just about Rwanda, but how do we face the conflicts that we engage in right now like Afghanistan, terrorism and religious conflicts.”

Meier believes people need to look past the stereotypes, which is what Rwanda: Hope Rises does by sharing real stories of the Rwandans.

Tickets for the screening are $5 and can be purchased at the door. Proceeds go to STAND and SRHIR. The Wolf Performance Hall is located at 251 Dundas St. at the London Central Library.

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