SHOWING Friday, October 11; 12:30 @ Oxford; Saturday, October 12 @ 10:30 am @ Regal 2
In April 1994, the central African nation of Rwanda was ripped apart in ethnic violence. Over one month, more than one million Rwandans were murdered; many hacked to death by machetes. It is one of the most gruesome genocides in world history—and, at 2 minutes 25 seconds into the hour-long documentary film Finding Hillywood, the horrific event is first mentioned in a chilly personal story from Ayuub, the stoic man at the center of this movie.
After being lured into a church, being promised safe haven, his mother was killed with several other hundred women when other villagers locked the doors and threw several hand grenades into the building. At the time, Ayuub was living in nearby Uganda. The event sent his life into a decade-long struggle with drugs and mental anguish. He still carries pain and defeat on his face, but film, quite literally, is redeeming his life.
The genocide rightfully underscores this entire film, yet Finding Hillywood is actually an uplifting film, a raw story about redemption and, more generally, a case-study about exactly how and why film matters.
After the genocide, a few motion pictures were filmed in the country—namely, Forest Whitaker’s “The Last King of Scotland.” Interactions with international media and filmmakers inspired a few enterprising men—and a couple women—to start their very own film school, and to try to germinate their own “Hillywood,” a modest industry that produces narrative films—most based on personal stories from the genocide, and attempts at articulate the horror that the country has undergone. And each year, these films travel over 14 days to be screened in seven different cities and villages at an inflatable screen.
Finding Hillywood is a lush film that carefully and calmly profiles several of the men and women producing these films. It is a sincere, and ultimately inspiring, movie about why film actually can and does matter.