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Guest Filmmaker Patrick Mureithi To Screen and Discuss His Film About Reconciliation After the Rwandan Genocide

Discussion to follow the screening of “ICYIZERE:hope” on the final day of SMU’s Third Annual Communicating Excellence Symposium

Ryan Glenn (BFA/BA '10 - Theatre Studies & Creative Advertising)
Award-winning documentary filmmaker Patrick Mureithi will lead a discussion about the role of communication in the aftermath of the Rwandan genocide following the showing of his film ICYIZERE:hope on March 9. The event will conclude SMU’s Third Annual Communicating Excellence Symposium, “Better Communication for Better Leaders on Human Rights,” which takes place March 7-9 (click here for other symposium events). 

Mureithi, a Kenyan native, was only 17 years old in April 1994 when in Rwanda, over the course of 100 days, Hutu tribesmen massacred over one million Tutsis and moderate Hutus and displaced millions more. Just two countries away in Kenya, Mureithi knew only that there was a civil war in Rwanda. The scale and horror of the Rwandan genocide were not widely understood by the world community at the time. For Mureithi, this understanding would come years later.

Mureithi graduated from Missouri State University in 2001 with a degree in mass media, but his true passion had always been for videography and photojournalism. This passion led Mureithi to television photojournalism and freelance videography work right out of college – until 2004. It was then that he watched a PBS documentary, “Ghosts of Rwanda,” and for the first time understood the severity of what had actually happened in Rwanda in 1994. Mureithi was so shaken he fell into a depression after learning about the extent of human cruelty inflicted during the genocide and the fact that it had occurred so close to where he grew up.

A year and a half later, he learned about workshops being conducted in Rwanda by a St. Louis-based organization, the African Great Lakes Initiative. The workshops brought together victims and perpetrators of the genocide to teach them about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and to build trust and foster healing. Immediately, Patrick knew he wanted to hear the participants’ stories and to share them with others. It wasn’t enough to be upset by the horrific events of the past; he felt he had to take action and inspire others to do the same.

ICYIZERE:hope was, from the beginning, a leap of faith for Mureithi, who had many obstacles to overcome: production costs, travel expenses, safety concerns, and the ever-present possibility that the Rwandans involved in the workshops would simply not want their stories told on film. Still, he pressed on and eventually found the necessary supporters, including a local developer, a generous local band, and Drury University in Springfield, Missouri. Between 2007 and 2010, he traveled safely to Rwanda four times to film the workshop participants, who slowly but surely began to trust him with their stories.

ICYIZERE:hope has been screened in Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the United Kingdom and at various film festivals and universities across the U.S. It continues to garner acclaim and its compelling stories continue to inspire hope for forgiveness and healing. Above all, Mureithi always stresses the absolute importance of the stories of the victims and the perpetrators in the film, not only to Rwandans or even to Africans, but to all of humanity. It is imperative, he believes, for everyone to realize that from such a tragedy it is easy to fall victim to the dangers of hatred manifested by an “us and them” mentality, when ultimately what is more powerful and indeed more needed is forgiveness.

The 55-minute screening of ICYIZERE:hope is on Wednesday, March 9, at 7:00 p.m. in O’Donnell Auditorium, Room 2130, Owen Arts Center, followed by a half hour presentation and discussion with the director. A reception begins at 8:30 p.m. in the Taubman Atrium, Owen Arts Center. The event is free and open to the public. For more information, please call Rebecca Hewitt at 214.768.1574.

ICYIZERE teaches us the most critical of human skills, how to speak, to listen, to understand and to forgive oneself and others. I could not recommend any film more highly.” –Mary Pipher, New York Times best-selling author of Reviving Ophelia and The Shelter of Each Other

Watch the trailer of ICYIZERE:hope, and learn more about Patrick Mureithi and his production company, Josiah Films, here.

Learn more about the African Great Lakes Initiative here.

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