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Lee Isaac Chung
A young Tutsi woman and a young Hutu man fall in love amidst chaos; a soldier struggles to foster a greater good while absent from her family; and a priest grapples with his faith in the face of unspeakable horror.
From opposing ethnicities, Ngabo and Sangwa are tested when old-timers warn, "Hutus and Tutsis should not be friends." An intense and inspiring portrait of youth in Rwanda, 'Munyurangabo' features Poet Laureate Edouard Uwayo delivering a moving poem about his healing country. Rwanda. Kinyarwanda with English subtitles. Written by
This film seems to meet with some success, but a first time film about Africa made by a New Yorker who was born in Korea, lived in rural Arkansas, and dropped his plans for Yale medical school appears an ambitious challenge. As it is, Lee Isaac Chung does a remarkable job with two inexperienced actors, who are also in their first feature film. It seems, however, that films should be a combination of structure and theme. The theme relating to long term emotional damage resulting from genocide is froth with emotion and confusion, not unusual for civil strife of such magnitude. One is left feeling that the struggle between the Hutus and Tutsis is far from over and that Rwanda is someday due for more of the same. Yet, it seems that once one accepts the emotional aspects, the film offers little. As a debut, the film appears passable and should stand on its own merits. The Left Elbow Index considers seven aspects of film--acting, plot, character development, artistry, film continuity, production sets, and dialogue--on a scale of 10 for very good, 5 for average, and 1 for needs help. The acting appears uneven at best, with some bright moments. The plot seems uneven probably caused by a lack of focus as to what the purpose of the visit might be. Walking in and out of scenes seems to provide little basis for this. There appears to be little character development, and the role of the poet seems a misfit. The artistry is average with good use of color and camera angles. Film continuity appears challenged by the seeming lack of a coherent plot. The production sets and the dialogue look to be average, with mostly outdoor scenes and local language. The Left Elbow Index average for this film is 2.1, raised to a 4.0 when equated to the IMDb rating system. The film is worth seeing since it does attempt to put a human face on the Rwandan genocide, and it gives an alternative to international media reports. I believe that Lee Chung has great potential for future films, films with professional actors, tighter structures, and clearer themes. I recommend this film, keeping in mind that it is a debut.
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