’One of the Thousand Hills’ set for premiere at Cinéma Central

On 27 November 2023 at 03:36

“One of the Thousand Hills” a documentary film about of three children, Fidéline, Oliver et Fiacre, killed by their neighbours during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi is set to be screened on 28 November, 18.30h at Cinéma Central as part of the Mashariki African Film Festival.

After filming the Gacaca trail of the killers of the children in 2005, Belgian filmmaker Bertrand Bellefroid revisited the crime scene in an attempt to make visible the invisible: the absence of those children.

In 2005 Bellefroid released his first film on the genocide against the Tutsi. “Rwanda, the Hills speak out” showed how survivors and assassins confront and avoid each other in the Gacaca trials, and illustrated the despair of a grandfather looking for the truth about his grandchildren. It depicted a Rwandan society struggling with the ideology of genocide ten years after the facts.

In 2023, on the eve of the 30th commemoration of the genocide, Bellefroid returned to the hill where Fidéline, Olivier and Fiacre were killed. The last days of these children are intertwined with three historical times: the memory of the genocide itself, the Gacaca trials of 2005 and the resilience of the village where those who exterminated and those who loved are resuming a common life.

Bellefroid and his belgo-rwandan film crew consider cinema to be a form of “collective martial arts”. One of the reasons that pushed them to revisit the hill is the urgency created by the ageing of the witnesses and the persistent genocide denial or minimisation. To a certain extent, the fine truth about what happened is held exclusively by the perpetrators, creating agony and a certain dependence for the survirvors. The merit of the Gacaca trials is that they created a path to a shared yet minimalistic truth, which has enabled Rwandans to move forward together over the past 30 years.

Cinematographically, the documentary shuns violent archive footage and works by shifting the attention of the viewer to the physical environment which was familiar to the three children. As such it requires a participatory effort by the public to approach the truth, to restore the children’s existence and the history of a hill for all hills.

The film was realised with the support of the Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles (Belgium) and the Centre National de la Cinématographie (France) and is distributed by Wallonie Image Production. It is expected to be broadcast on VRT (Dutch Belgian TV), RTBF (French Belgian TV) and Arte (French-German channel) in April 2024 for the 30th commemoration of the genocide against the Tutsi.

'One of the Thousand Hills' is set for premiere at Cinéma Centra as part of Mashariki African Film Festival.