'My Neighbor My Killer': Rwandan Reconciliation

The Cannes Film Festival has long rewarded movies with a social conscience. But in terms of sheer gravitas this year, it will be hard to beat Anne Aghion's "My Neighbor My Killer." The film—which comes on the 15th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide—is a companion to Aghion's Gacaca (pronounced "ga-cha-cha") series that tracks the reconciliation process in the remote village of Gafumba. Over nine years there, Aghion followed the progress of the Gacacas, local courts created in 2001 by the government for citizens to judge their neighbors who took part in the massacre.

"My Neighbor My Killer" tells the personal stories of the victims and perpetrators in a quiet, intimate manner. There are no corpses, no violence—just the words of the survivors, giving testimony on the past madness and the difficult future. In one poignant scene, two Hutu women—whose Tutsi husbands and children were killed—talk about themselves as if they were already dead. Even as the world's focus shifted northward to Darfur, Aghion kept her camera patiently trained on Rwanda— and the result is a much-needed examination of the challenging yet necessary process of justice and reconciliation in the aftermath of genocide.

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