‘Life After Death’ (Conflicting Portrait of Present-day Rwandan Youth) Heading to 50th Chicago Int’l Film Fest

'Life After Death' (Conflicting Portrait of Present-day Rwandan Youth) Heading to 50th Chicago Int'l Film Fest

I’m not
going to lie and tell you upfront that this new documentary, “Life After Death” – one of first films announced to be screened at the 50th Chicago International Film Festival (Oct 9-23) – doesn’t have me
(how shall I say) rather concerned.

The film, by director Joe Callander, which was shown in May at the Little Rock Film Festival, and The Brooklyn Academy of the Arts in June, follows a young man named Kwasa, who’s a survivor of the Rwandan genocide and, with his best friend, is scraping by, trying
to make it day by day. However, when
he comes into contact with a white American evangelical Christian philanthropic couple,
seeking to help those less fortunate in Africa, he basically cons and uses them for his own gain, while the couple “turn
a blind eye to his puckish scheming and unrepentant carousing.”

See what I mean?
Sounds like there might be some problems here… Is Kwasa a troubled young man struggling under the weight of a traumatic history? Or is he just another hustler who sees a chance to milk “Western kindness” for all he can?

Now I can’t say for sure, since I haven’t
seen the film yet, and the trailer below doesn’t give any real sense of what the film
is like, except that Callander seems to be going for some sort of comic, off-beat, quirky vibe.

In a past interview director Callander gave at the Little Rock Film Festival (where the film screened earlier this year), he did say that what drew him to this story was that, while he was in Rwanda doing some filming on another project, he met Kwasa, calling him outrageous, hilarious and outgoing, which apparently wasn’t what he expected to find in the people in Rwanda. Callander said that he was drawn to Kwasa and his best friend Fils immediately and became obsessed with telling what he felt was a kind of story he hadn’t seen come out of Rwanda before – essentially, a present day portrait of a generation of people in their early 20′s who were born into the most horrific of events.

And when asked what he hopes audiences will take from the film, Callander said: “I hope they leave smiling and with a full heart, talking about all the strange and wonderful characters they’ve just spent 75 minutes with, and maybe wondering how life can be so exhilarating, absurd, hilarious, and horrific, all at the same time.”

We’ll have
to wait and see. 

Here’s the
trailer:

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Comments

Shanae

"Is Kwasa a troubled young man struggling under the weight of a traumatic history? Or is he just another hustler who sees a chance to milk "Western kindness" for all he can?"

Hey Sergio, if that's in the film's synopsis, then I don't see why this would be a problem. I think that the film could be attempting to depict an individual's perception of humanity and human relationships after genocide. Just from the trailer and summary, I got the following questions: How do we determine that Kwasa is not both struggling under the weight of trauma AND a hustler? What does trauma do to a person – mentally and physically? Does it create a hustler? Does it create someone who is weak and easily taken advantage of? Or is Kwasa's decision to "milk" those white people innate? Are those white people allowing themselves to be taken advantage of due to guilt? The synopsis says they "turn a blind eye to his puckish scheming and unrepentant carousing". Is the director playing with our understanding of good and bad through these characters? Like you said, the trailer does not tell us what the film will be like and does not exactly match the summary provided of the film in the article.

Nonetheless, I found the trailer extremely interesting and it is definitely something I'd like to see in DC.

CareyCarey

"The film was shown was back at the Little Rock Film Festival in May and The Brooklyn Academy of Arts in June" … "See what I mean? Sounds like there might be some problems here"

*lol* Yep, I see what you mean and I know the source of the problem. Well, either you were half asleep when you wrote that, or you need new glasses. And, there's another problem. Where did this come from–> [While the couple] "turn a blind eye to his puckish scheming and unrepentant carousing"

Who said that? I mean, was those words included in the synopsis?

Anyway, lastly, tick-tock the problems didn't stop… "but am I reading too into this or are you having doubts too?". Well Sergio, you may be reading too.. uh.. too (something*lol*) into this and I have doubts about rather or not you got enough sleep last night. I mean, I know you've said you're not a journalist but this post was….

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