Gacaca, Living Together Again in Rwanda?

“When you have seen what happened with your own eyes, something changes in your brain,” remarks a young survivor of the Rwandan genocide in this 2002 video documentary. “It takes hold of you once more, and the unease that you feel pervades your daily life.” Director Anne Aghion elicits some devastating stories and articulate observations from residents of the Ntongwe district as they prepare for the Gacaca tribunals (pronounced ga-cha-cha), part of the government's campaign to root out and punish the rank-and-file killers. The informal tribunals stress healing over vengeance: culprits making a full confession can expect to see their sentences reduced, with prison terms commuted to house arrest and community service. Despite the many horrific tales (one woman remembers the machete-wielding troops calmly chopping people down like banana trees), the video is moving mainly for its portrait of a people trying to meet subhuman cruelty with superhuman forgiveness. 55 min.

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