A British cameraman hopes his first feature film will bring the horrors of the Rwandan genocide to a wider audience. The movie, called "100 Days", is a Rwandan-backed film about the former Hutu government's effort to kill as many Tutsis as possible during the 1994 genocide. Many in the cast are survivors of the killing which led to about 800-thousand Tutsis and moderate Hutus dying. Set in a stunningly beautiful small town on the shores of Lake Kivu, "100 Days" tells the story of two young lovers who try to survive the slaughter but are separated after both their families are brutally murdered. Getting ready for yet another harrowing film scene, director Nick Hughes pours artificial blood onto the actors who play the husband and wife. In the film, Hutu extremist militiamen have just burst into the couple's home, killing them as they lie sleeping. Scenes like these took place across the country in 1994, when the Hutu government called on the army, local militias and civilians to rise up and kill Tutsis. Around 800-thousand ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus were slaughtered during 100 days of bloodshed. The director of "100 Days" is not unfamiliar with the story - he worked as a cameraman in Rwanda and documented one of the 20th century's worst genocides.
SOUNDBITE (English)"This is very important because I suppose I feel really strongly about what happened in Rwanda and a film is something that I know, or maybe I know, maybe I don't know how to make a film, but it's something I can do."
SUPER CAPTION: Nick Hughes, Director "100 Days"
"100 Days" is the first fictional account of the genocide. There have been countless documentaries, but the director hopes that his film will have a wider appeal.
UPSOUND: (English)"Rwanda! This is not Rwanda. This is Hell."
SUPER CAPTION: Actress
The genocide began on 6 April, 1994, just hours after a plane carrying President Juvenal Habyarimana, a Hutu, was shot down as it approached Kigali airport. The identity of the assailants remains unknown. Hundreds of thousands were killed before a Tutsi-led army seized power in July 1994. Many of the actors in the film are survivors of the genocide.
SOUNDBITE (English)"I wanted to act in this film so that people - more of the world - can know what happened in Rwanda. And I'm very interested in being an actor. Maybe it's my first time but I'm trying to be an actor."
SUPER CAPTION: Dennis Kabira, Actor "100 Days"The film - made on a budget of just over one (m) million dollars - will also highlight the role of the Catholic church and the international community which failed to stop the genocide. Rwanda is a predominantly Catholic country, but the Vatican did little to halt the genocide. The United Nations has also been accused of not doing enough to stop the killing. Critics say thousands could have been saved if troops had been sent in early on. Instead, the survivors lived in fear until the Tutsi rebels seized power and ended the violence. Hughes did not succeed in winning any international funding for his project but the film has been backed by Rwandan producers.
SOUNDBITE (English):"The main difficulties are - we have been very short of finance. We have not got any international support at all. We have got enough support from Rwandan businessmen to make the film. Rwanda is not a rich country and there are no real rich businessmen. There's no film industry or anything like that. So I'm very grateful to those people who have stuck their neck out to help make this film."
SUPER CAPTION: Nick Hughes, Director "100 Days"Most of the cast are Rwandans with little or no acting experience. For those who survived the genocide, re-enacting their roles as victims is sometimes too difficult to bear emotionally.
UPSOUND: (English)Actress: "They may be dead, but their spirits still live on the land". Actor: "You talk stupid you will do as I say."
Actress: "They are supposed to hurt you if you touch it, otherwise you'll be finished."
Actor: "Why are you so frightened, Rwanda is ours now."
SUPER CAPTION: Actor, Actress
As for the actors playing the roles of French and Belgian peacekeepers, all are volunteers who stumbled into their acting careers accidently while hitchhiking in Rwanda. Some of the cast playing aid workers were on assignment in Rwanda during the genocide. To prepare for their scenes, they remember the murder spree and fear. One of the actors, who plays a policeman in the film, emerged naked from the genocide having spent three days and nights unconscious amongst a pile of corpses. The director left Rwanda five years ago to write his screenplay and he says he feels guilty about not doing enough to help the people around him. He hopes his film, due out sometime in the spring 2000, will tell the full story of what happened.
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