x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Documentary on Rwanda reaches beyond all others

Rwanda has been the subject of more films than you can count since the genocide of 1994. In Earth Made of Glass, Deborah Scranton reaches beyond other documentaries to transcend those horrors by reliving them. It's tough to watch.

Earth Made of Glass examines the Rwandan genocide.
Earth Made of Glass examines the Rwandan genocide.

Earth Made of Glass Director: Deborah Scranton

****

Rwanda has been the subject of more films than you can count since the genocide of 1994. In Earth Made of Glass, Deborah Scranton reaches beyond other documentaries to transcend those horrors by reliving them. It's tough to watch.

She does this through two men. Jean-Pierre Sagahutu, who survived the killings, investigates his father's death until he comes face to face with the killer. Paul Kagame, the president of Rwanda, releases a detailed report on France's role in the genocide, which implicates the former president François Mitterrand. The report's immediate consequence is the arrest in France of one of Kagame's aides - on charges of crimes against humanity - and an uphill campaign to rebuild relations with the rest of the world. That campaign is still a work in progress.

Scranton's approach is less dazzling than deliberate as she follows Sagahutu on his grim journey around Kigale, the Rwandan capital, where murders happened everywhere. She's just as deliberate when filming Kagame's bid to return the country to the international community.

Sagahutu's commitment to learn the details of his father's fate sets him apart. So does his willingness to forgive, eventually. "Forgiveness with no truth means nothing," he warns.

The film's title comes from a line by the American poet Ralph Waldo Emerson: "There is no den in the world to hide a rogue; Commit a crime and the earth is made of glass."

Sadly, the title remains wishful thinking. We're reminded throughout this troubling film that plenty of those who encouraged or committed the massacres have never been held accountable.

Today, Marina Mall Cinestar 2, 4.30pm.