I first saw Lee Isaac Chung's Munyurangabo (2007) at New Directors/New Films in 2008, and was struck both by the film's reticent morality as well as by Chung's subtle yet perceptive direction. Considering its political context (the cultural memory of genocide in Rwanda), the film could have easily flown off in the direction of heavy-handed earnestness. Instead, Chung managed to reign in "the message" and focus more on a narrative that is hauntingly empathetic in its exploration of cultural clashes, without giving in to easy answers or reductive symbolism. For the work of first-time filmmaker working with non-professional actors and improvising scenes based on a brief scenario in a language he doesn't speak, it's extremely impressive that Munyurangabo is as nuanced and discerning as it is, in both its political content and cinematic sensibility.
Read my full review of Munyurangabo here at The L Magazine.
Late to the party: Max Fischer & Nicholas Angel
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