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10 Best Documentaries About Rwanda

These documentaries about Rwanda show its history, which is deeply marked by the tragic events of the 1994 genocide, but also by the hope of its people and the wildlife of this beautiful country.

From personal narratives to critical examinations of historical narratives, these films offer diverse perspectives on Rwanda’s tumultuous past and the resilience of its people.


Documentaries About Rwanda

In the aftermath of the 1994 genocide, the nation underwent an extraordinary journey of recovery and reconciliation and a number of documentaries about Rwanda have sought to capture the complexities of the country’s past, exploring the causes and consequences of the genocide, as well as the remarkable efforts towards healing and rebuilding.


Rwanda: The Royal Tour

Rwanda: The Royal Tour is a documentary film that features Peter Greenberg, a travel journalist and CBS News travel editor, accompanying Paul Kagame, the President of Rwanda, as he guides Greenberg through the various attractions and landscapes of Rwanda.

The documentary is part of a series called “The Royal Tour,” where world leaders serve as tour guides to showcase their countries.

The film provides you with a unique perspective on Rwanda, exploring its culture, history, natural beauty, and development. The guided tour by President Kagame aims to promote tourism in Rwanda and dispel some of the stereotypes associated with the country, particularly those related to the tragic genocide that occurred in 1994.

During the documentary, you get a glimpse of Rwanda’s stunning scenery, wildlife, and cultural heritage. The film also addresses Rwanda’s efforts in post-genocide reconciliation and rebuilding, highlighting the progress the country has made in terms of economic development and social cohesion.

This is one of my favourite documentaries about Rwanda as it positively shows the country for the present and future.


Remarkable Rwanda: Land of Gorillas & A Thousand Hills 

Remarkable Rwanda shows just that, how remarkable Rwanda is. The documentary takes a look at how Rwanda these days is a peaceful and safe place and has many stunning natural places to see and lots of local culture.

You will meet local people and see some classic African wildlife as well as some ancient ways of living in one of the most fascinating countries in Africa.


Shake Hands with the Devil: The Journey of Romeo Dallaire (2004)

Shake Hands with the Devil: The Journey of Romeo Dallaire is a powerful documentary that chronicles the experiences of Lieutenant General Romeo Dallaire during the Rwandan genocide in 1994.

As the Force Commander of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR), Dallaire was on the ground during one of the darkest chapters in Rwanda’s history. The film takes its title from Dallaire’s book of the same name, and it provides a firsthand account of his struggles, frustrations, and moral dilemmas as he witnessed the systematic killing of Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

The documentary delves into the challenges faced by Dallaire as he tried to fulfil his peacekeeping mission in the midst of political indifference and inadequate resources from the international community. It highlights the commander’s efforts to prevent the genocide, his distressing experiences, and the personal toll the events took on him.

“Shake Hands with the Devil” not only serves as a historical record of the Rwandan genocide but also raises important questions about the role of the international community in preventing and responding to such atrocities.

This is easily one of the best documentaries about Rwanda to watch that takes a look at the 1994 genocide.


Rwanda: The Untold Story (2014)

Rwanda: The Untold Story is a documentary that challenges some of the conventional narratives surrounding the Rwandan genocide. The film presents alternative perspectives on the events leading up to and during the genocide, offering a different viewpoint from what has been widely accepted in mainstream discourse.

The documentary questions the simplicity of the narrative that portrays the genocide as solely an outcome of ancient ethnic tensions between the Hutu and Tutsi populations. It suggests that political and historical complexities, as well as international factors, played a role in the tragic events that unfolded.

“Rwanda: The Untold Story” interviews various individuals, including former officials and experts, who provide alternative analyses and opinions on the root causes of the genocide. The film also explores the political landscape leading up to the genocide, the role of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), and the dynamics of power within the region.


Ghosts of Rwanda (2004)

Ghosts of Rwanda is a documentary produced by PBS as part of the Frontline series. The film provides a comprehensive and deeply moving account of the Rwandan genocide.

Through interviews with key figures, including diplomats, United Nations officials, and survivors, the documentary examines the events leading up to the genocide, the failures of the international community to intervene effectively, and the profound impact on Rwanda and its people.

The documentary is framed around the question of whether the international community could have done more to prevent the genocide. It explores the decisions made by policymakers and peacekeepers at the time, shedding light on the political complexities and moral challenges they faced.

The documentary serves as a critical examination of the events surrounding the genocide, highlighting the lack of political will and decisive action from the international community.


As We Forgive (2008)

As We Forgive is a documentary that focuses on the theme of forgiveness and reconciliation in post-genocide Rwanda. The film explores the lives of both survivors and perpetrators of the 1994 Rwandan genocide as they navigate the challenging journey towards healing and forgiveness.

The documentary follows personal stories, giving voice to those who have experienced the unimaginable loss and trauma caused by the genocide. It delves into the complex process of reconciliation, examining how individuals and communities cope with the aftermath of such widespread violence and atrocities.

One of the notable aspects of “As We Forgive” is its emphasis on the power of forgiveness and the potential for rebuilding a fractured society. The film showcases the work of organizations and individuals dedicated to fostering reconciliation, unity, and understanding in the aftermath of the genocide.

Through interviews, personal narratives, and real-life examples, “As We Forgive” provides a nuanced perspective on the human capacity for forgiveness and the resilience of the Rwandan people in their efforts to move forward from one of the darkest chapters in their history.


Earth Made of Glass (2010)

Earth Made of Glass explores the aftermath of the Rwandan genocide and the efforts towards justice, reconciliation, and rebuilding the nation. The film primarily focuses on the journey of President Paul Kagame and his role in shaping Rwanda’s post-genocide trajectory.

The documentary delves into the complexities of justice as Rwanda sought to hold those responsible for the genocide accountable. It also examines the challenges of reconciliation and the broader efforts to heal the wounds of a deeply divided society.

The title, “Earth Made of Glass,” metaphorically suggests the fragility of the peace that was being built and the transparency required in addressing the difficult issues arising from the genocide.

The film provides a personal and political perspective, featuring interviews with President Paul Kagame as well as Jean-Pierre Sagahutu, a survivor of the genocide. As it unfolds, “Earth Made of Glass” reflects on the broader issues of accountability, forgiveness, and the intricate process of rebuilding a nation torn apart by violence.


How Rwanda Plans to Get Insanely Rich

This is a very short and yet very interesting look at the miracle of Rwanda’s economy as it has been one of the fastest developing countries in the past few decades.

How have they done it and is it sustainable? Have a watch of this documentary about Rwanda to find out.


Rwanda Rising: Development Story 

This is another documentary that explores the development in Rwanda and its prospects for the future after recovering from the 1994 genocide.


The Lives Of The Rwandan Mountain Gorillas

This is a slightly older documentary now but it gives excellent insight into the effects the genocide in 1994 had on the environment and preservation efforts to protect the mountain gorillas in Rwanda.

This is one of the best wildlife documentaries about Rwanda to watch.


Hotel Rwanda (2004)

I’m adding this at the end as an “extra” viewing option as I’m kind of cheating a bit with this one as it’s not a documentary, but it is an excellent movie that I highly recommend watching.

Hotel Rwanda is based on the true story of Paul Rusesabagina, a hotel manager who played a significant role in saving the lives of over a thousand Tutsi refugees during the Rwandan genocide.

The story is set against the backdrop of the ethnic tensions between the Hutu and Tutsi populations in Rwanda. Paul Rusesabagina manages the Hôtel des Mille Collines in Kigali. As violence escalates and the genocide unfolds, Rusesabagina transforms the hotel into a haven for Tutsi refugees seeking protection from the brutal militias.


Rwanda

These documentaries about Rwanda provide a lens through which you can gain a deeper understanding of the human stories, political dynamics, and the ongoing quest for justice and reconciliation in the heart of Africa.

For more on the region have a read of the 10 best documentaries about the Congo.

Have a look at the 10 best safari destinations in East Africa, one of which is in Rwanda.


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