Expired May 26, 2021 3:59 AM
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In the spring of 1994 for 100 horrifying days, Hutu-led government forces instigated attacks against Tutsi and moderate Hutu. This became known as the Rwanda genocide. The film captures the moment-to-moment fear and savagery of the Hutu attacks that resulted in neighbors attacking neighbors and mixed families killing family members. Over an estimated 500,000 people were killed. Against this backdrop first time feature director Alanna Brown has crafted an extraordinary tale of survival, self-discovery and redefinition. Four women from diverse backgrounds manage to hide from the insanity of genocide in a small storage basement for an extended period of time. The four actresses, Eliane Umuhire, Charmaine Bingwa, Ella Cannon and Bola Koleosho deliver outstanding performances. The tension is palpable and sustained for the duration of the film.

Brown spent six years developing this story. She travelled to Rwanda meeting with survivors on both sides of the conflict and visiting memorial sites. Her observations and emotional testimonials formed the basis for the script. Shortly after the start of the social breakdown, a woman finds her house the only refuge for three strangers. As a last resort the group hides in her basement with minimal food, or water and no sanitation. There the process of comprehending the attacks, fear, and conflicting points of view turn into a sustainable plan for short term survival as their culture devolves into chaos. The unique personality of each character is given time to develop and voice their sense of presence, guilt and desire to rise to the task at hand.

Several films have used a very limited physical space as the centerpiece of their story. Few have been able to make the environment such an important part of the film. The single basement window provides a glimpse of the carnage taking place outside, nourishing water during heavy rains and fear that a random killer will peek in on them. The walls become their source of recording the days, their thoughts, hope and fears.

The essence of the film is the ability of the women to not only survive but emerge stronger and determined to have a new perspective on their world and the culture in general. Currently Rwanda has the largest percentage of female political leaders in the world. They fully embrace their difficult past and have vowed to not repeat it. This is a challenging film to watch but the lessons are important for every government where dissent is challenged with violence instead of words. -

— Eric Cotten, Festival Programming Associate, 2021 MdFF

Content Consideration: Strong language, depictions and discussion of ethnic violence, rape, and sexual assault

This screening will be followed by a Q&A with Director, Alanna Brown moderated by Festival Programming Associate, Eric Cotten.

  • Year
  • Runtime
    97 minutes
  • Language
  • Country
    United States
  • Note
    Kinyarwanda and English, with English subtitles
  • Director
    Alanna Brown
  • Screenwriter
    Alanna Brown
  • Producer
    Ron Ray, Barry Levine, Mike Bundlie, Brian Baniqued, Jeff Spiegel, Vicky Petela, Alanna Brown
  • Executive Producer
    Michelle Ray, Pascal Vaguelsy, Joseph Lanius, Denise Bradley, Arlene Madison, Julien Favre, Linda Aranda, Lindsay Aichinger,
  • Cast
    Eliane Umuhire, Charmaine Bingwa, Ella Cannon, Bola Koleosho
  • Cinematographer
    Michael Rizzi
  • Editor
    Kiran Pallegadda, Gabriel Fleming
  • Production Design
    Christian Zollenkopf
  • Composer
    David Buckley
  • Sound Design
    Jamison Rabbe