Our documentary film Coexist is reviewed in Thursday's New York Times. We invite you to read the review and watch our film on television. You may also read the full review here:
Reconciliation Held Together With Bleeding Stitches
‘Coexist,’ About Rwanda 20 Years Later, on PBS
By NEIL GENZLINGER APRIL 9, 2014
As Rwanda and the world note the 20th anniversary of the genocide in that country, much of the focus has been on reconciliations between the Hutu killers who slaughtered Tutsis and the victims’ family members and friends. “Coexist,” a documentary by Adam Mazo, at first seems as if it is merely going to be another effort to draw feel-good stories out of an impossibly ugly moment in history. But it ultimately proves itself much smarter than that, exploring whether forgiveness that is mandated by the government can be genuine.
The film, which is being shown this month on some public television stations, including WLIW in New York at 10 p.m. on Thursday, consists mostly of low-key but powerful interviews with participants in the genocide and survivors of it. They relate their experiences from 1994, and some of them sound as if they are buying the maxim that the current government is selling: Forgive, and resume living side by side.
But as the interview subjects open up, cracks in this facade are evident. A man who did some of the killing begins to sound as if he is merely parroting whatever the authorities say, just as he followed the instructions to kill 20 years ago. A woman who experienced unimaginable loss is not at all on board with the forgiveness plan. “If I could afford to, I would leave,” she says, “because I don’t want to see the people who killed my family.”
The film is being promoted as a teaching tool, part of an initiative to show the destructiveness of “othering”: dividing people into us/them categories. And its ultimate lesson is that reconciliation is difficult to manufacture. Better, of course, not to let enmity take root in the first place.