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Rising from Ashes
Nearly 20 years have passed since the Rwandan genocide in which elements of the Hutu ethnic majority murdered an estimated 800,000 minority Tutsis during a civil war. Most Westerners have been ignoring the small central African country since then, and T.C. Johnstone’s earnest, often uplifting, but overly warm and fuzzy documentary about the Rwandan national cycling team probably won’t fill in much of the gap. Though the subject inspires, Johnstone’s treatment lacks focus and edge, falling back on platitudes, sentiment, and generalities when clarity is what is needed.
Like so many other Western films about Africa, whether fictional or documentary, “Rising From Ashes” puts a white guy center stage, a way into the otherness of the experience, presumably, for the average viewer. In this instance, the focus is deserved.