The Bride, a compelling movie set in Rwanda in 1997, delves into the harrowing world of forced marriages that plagued the country's history. The film follows the story of Eva, a young woman born into a refugee family in Zaire. Eva's life takes a tragic turn when she is abducted and coerced into marriage at a tender age, a distressing practice that was once common in Rwanda. ALSO READ: Adriana Lima's film ‘FIFA: A Love Letter to Rwanda’ debuts at Taormina Film Festival In the movie, her aunt tries to console her, stating that she will eventually grow to love her husband, but in today's context, such an act would be considered kidnapping and rape, both illegal. Eva's forced union leads to the abandonment of her dreams of pursuing a medical degree at the University of Rwanda, where she aspired to become a pediatrician. The attention to detail in The Bride is noteworthy, as the film effectively captures the essence of 1997, through its accurate portrayal of kitchenware, clothing, and cultural practices. One prominent aspect highlighted in the movie is labia elongation, a traditional practice known as gukuna or guca imyeyo. This practice involves women stretching their labia minora to increase their length to approximately six centimeters or more. The film sheds light on this cultural phenomenon, showcasing the complexities and traditions that shaped the lives of Rwandan women during that era. The Bride features talented actors who bring the characters to life. Sandra Umulisa stars as Eva, while Aline Amike portrays Silas's cousin, and Daniel GAGA takes on the role of Silas, Eva's husband. The film has garnered recognition and accolades, including a Special Mention for the GWFF Best First Feature Award Jury at the Berlinale Film Festival in Germany, as well as the Silver Lady Harimaguada Award and the CIMA Award at the Las Palmas International Film Festival in Spain. ALSO READ: PHOTOS: About the screening of Rwandan action movie Duty Chapter 3 Myriam Birara, the director of The Bride draws from personal experiences and family stories to shed light on the devastating issue of forced marriages. Growing up in the mid-'90s, the director witnessed the plight of young women who were abducted and forced into marriages with strangers. These non-consensual unions left the brides trapped in situations where returning to their families meant enduring shame and scorn, as they were considered damaged goods. The director's own aunts were victims of forced marriages, and this reality haunted them for years. They pondered on how they would have dealt with such circumstances—whether they would have given up on their dreams, accepted a life with a stranger, or found the courage to rebel. These questions sparked the creation of The Bride, the director's debut film. Set in post-genocide Rwanda, a time of trauma for the entire nation, the film focuses on the forced marriages that added to the collective pain. These marriages brought together broken men, like Silas in the film, a former soldier who returned to find his family massacred. The abductee brides were not just obedient wives but also the lifelines of families on the verge of extinction. While Rwanda has made significant strides in protecting the rights of women and girls, The Bride aims to shed light on this often-forgotten reality, unveiling a Rwanda that feels distant despite the presence of survivors with unimaginable and unseen wounds. Through the film, the director pays tribute to the resilience of those who endured these marriages, whether they stayed or fled. The Bride is currently being screened at Canal Olympia Rebero from July 8 -14, offering audiences an opportunity to witness the poignant portrayal of a dark chapter in Rwanda's history and honor the strength of those who faced its challenges.