My first major discovery of the Chicago Film Festival is the documentary My Neighbor, My Killer
, which will be an insuperably hard sell to lots of audience because it's about the aftermath of the Rwandan genocidespecifically, about the locally mounted communal trials by which survivors of the national massacre accuse, listen to, and sentence suspected perpetrators who have recently been released from jails, once the official courts became hopelessly clogged and the processes of jurisprudence and of healing, whether or not those have anything to do with each other, grew ever slower. The film itself is smartly, profoundly, tough-mindedly evocative of almost every side of this unfathomable circumstance. It is robustly present-oriented, rhyming with the ethos of the courts to help everyone move forward, without getting saddled in the past, even if that's a profoundly impossible edict to maintain in a country like Rwanda. If anything, the film skimps a bit too much on historical and contextualizing information (I recommend Gérard Prunier's The Rwanda Crisis
for an incisive and comprehensive historical account), but the film teems with interviews and with snapshots of awkward, enormously loaded personal encounters that I'm sure I will never forget, and not for the reasons I anticipated. Click here for my full review
, and keep your eye out for the movie.
Please do, by the way, click on these reviews, link to them on your sites, or post comments on these blog posts, even if you don't plan on catching the movie soon or having time to read the full write-ups just yet. It's quite an exercise in generosity when these festivals afford me a press pass, since I'm not connected to any "official" media outlet, and being able to verify that people are reading these entries and taking stock of the filmsespecially the ones you haven't read about elsewherewill allow me to keep scoring gigs like this. Thanks!My Neighbor, My Killer plays Sunday 10/11 and Tuesday 10/20.
Labels: African Cinema, CIFF09, Documentary, Festivals, International