A new film on the 1994 Rwanda Genocide against the Tutsi was last weekend premiered to Rwandans.
The film “The Day God Walked Away” was first screened to VIPs, at Prime Holdings on January 21, and the public got its share on January 22 at the Petite Stade.
Directed by Philipe Van Leeuw, a Belgian film director, the film follows the story of Jacqueline, a Tutsi woman, played by Rwandan actress/musician Ruth Nirere.
“The Day God Walked Away” was shot in June - August 2008 in Kigali and Cyangugu.
The title derives its meaning from the adage that God spends the day somewhere else—and the night in Rwanda.
But the fact that Genocide occurred, claiming over a million lives—it means that time He failed to return home to sleep.
The actress, who won several awards for the role, finds her two children slaughtered on the living room floor in the first days of the Genocide. As she attempts to wash the bodies she is chased out by neighbours who want to kill her.
Then, she begins a life of hiding in the forest, living like an animal, along with another survivor whose wounds she treats, and whose name we never learn. Periodically Hutu militia hear them in the undergrowth and give chase, boasting of those they have already raped and killed.
Jacqueline, already mad with grief from the loss of her children, is pushed to the brink by the sound of the machete her new companion uses to chop bamboo and attempts to use the machete to kill him.
The film ends with her running back to her village towards the end of the Genocide and collapsing on the street, surrounded by her former neighbours who debate whether they should help her recover, kill her or “just let her die”.
Having starred in two other Genocide films (Avenir, and Long Coat), Nirere said that it has always been an honour for her to participate in Genocide films.
“As a Genocide survivour, sometimes I feel traumatized, especially during the shootings but I’ve to be strong and brave, in order to show the world the evil acts that were done to the Tutsi during Genocide.”
“The film shows a lot of evil things that happened during the Genocide: Hatred, betrayal by the neighbour, manhunts, and the anxiety in the hiding places,” Theodore Simburudari, Ibuka president told The New Times.
“People strived hard to survive, by sleeping in swamps of Nyabarongo and Akanyaru, feeding on roots, leaves and drinking dirt water.”
However, Simburudari has criticized the scene, where a couple is shown having sexual affairs. “During that time, there was no time for such a thing. People were worriedly running for their lives because they were hunted and killed.”