Paris, December 17, 2009 (FH) - The first full-length documentary on the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) was released on December 16 in select cinemas in Paris and Marseille (France).

1 min 23Approximate reading time

"D'Arusha à Arusha" (From Arusha to Arusha) is a 113 minutes' movie directed by the French filmmaker Christophe Cargot, who has already won awards with this documentary in 2008 and 2009 at festivals in Berlin, Marseille and Lisbon.

By moving back and forth between Arusha and Rwanda, Cargot tries to understand the ICTR's limits and Rwandan perceptions of the international tribunal. In the process, archived footage of Defence and Prosecution pleadings, as well as testimonies by witnesses, is being screened for Rwandans to comment on.

A former teacher, himself sentenced to a prison term for complicity in genocide, Jean de Dieu Bucyibaruta, thus watches Theoneste Bagosora's trial."Who's this guy?", he asks. He had never heard of the former Director of the Cabinet of the Ministry of Defence and didn't know that Bagosora, accused of being "the mastermind of the genocide", was condemned to life in prison in 2008.

In the documentary, Rwandans explain their understanding of international justice. They point out how the tribunal's work helps, or doesn't help, the reconciliation between Hutus and Tutsis. "After all these years, I can assert that the ICTR has failed to establish a genuine bond with Rwandan citizens", says Christophe Cargot who worked four years on his documentary. "For most people, the ICTR means footage of trials shown in the evening news, especially when emblematic figures of the former regime are convicted. And that's it ".

The filmmaker regrets a missed opportunity for reconciliation, the international justice "shielding itself to a point where it gets largely inaccessible, namely for the most directly concerned".

The question the film raises then is: why, and from what, is the ICTR trying to protect itself? "I think the ICTR is actually protecting itself against its inability", Christophe Cargot replies, "its inability to judge history equitably, i.e. to judge obviously the genocide against the Tutsis but also the crimes committed by the RPF [Rwandan Patriotic Front, in power since 1994]".


© Hirondelle News Agency