At the heart of this article is an analysis of two documentary films that focus on the topic of forgiveness, one in Rwanda, in the wake of the 1994 genocide, and the other in northern Uganda, following the ravages of the Lord's Resistance Army. This essay includes a description of the production background of both films, a brief outline of the historical context in which they are set, and a more detailed examination of both documentaries. Special focus is placed upon how these films reflect the way in which local traditions are used in the aftermath of violence in an attempt to bring about reconciliation. Through this discussion the observation is made that while neither film actually shows the local Gacaca gathering in Rwanda nor the Mato Oput rituals in Uganda at work, the films do draw these practices into a larger narrative about forgiveness. These traditions of ritualised forgiveness and local justice pre-date the arrival of Christianity in central East Africa. In this context, it is suggested that the filmmakers have appropriated and used these practices for a particular rhetorical purpose: to show how forgiveness is possible even after unimaginable cruelties.
- documentary film