Munyurangabo Lee Isaac Chung

Munyurangabo Lee Isaac Chung
Using the 1994 Rwanda genocide as a quiet backdrop for a country still wounded and reeling from the devastation, Munyurangabo delivers a tale of forgiveness without condescension, or the use of a soapbox. And while this simple tale of two boys travelling cross-country to kill the man who murdered Munyurangabo's (Jeff Rutagengwa) father rests on the quiet moments, letting quiet divisiveness manifest itself without prodding, it isn't particularly original either. By now, most art cineastes are familiar with humanist Western filmmakers that make touching hand-held portraits of life in third world countries with non-actors. We get the effort and appreciate the insight from a safe distance but more often than not these films are praised out of sheer nobility, rather than actual engagement or intrigue. Quite frankly, they tend to be boring and a little self-righteous, much like the critics that laud them. Here, the subtle discord between Munyurangabo and his friend Sangwa (Eric Dorunkundiye), exacerbated by a pit stop at the latter boy's family home, gives some complexity to the narrative, even if the woodenness of the non-actors doesn't. In this capacity, director Lee Isaac Chung's feature debut partially escapes its "issue" confines by providing broader humanity to the didactics. The overwhelming sense of alienation throughout, further defined by familial plight, national pain and the cinematic tendency to corner and isolate characters, helps subtly communicate the overall point. With two boys going through the motions of a road trip with vengeance on their minds, we can only assume that life lessons are to be learned, which they are, in part, if obliquely, suggesting more about the state of Rwanda than it does the titular protagonist. Included with the DVD are biographies, in addition to the short film Alptraum, directed by This Lüscher, wherein a Swiss man fantasizes about involvement in the EURO 2008 finals when his television goes black. (Film Movement)