Films of Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing
Village Justice: In the Tall Grass (2006): John J. Michalczyk
John J. Michalczyk
How does a society transition from genocidal violence to tolerance, then to mutual respect? This is a question challenging Rwandans in the wake of one of the worst massacres of the second half of the twentieth century, while governments and institutions remained silent. The meting out of justice now falls on the shoulders of the International Criminal Court, the local government’s judicial system, and presently, the age-old resurrected form of village justice referred to as gacaca, meaning “sweet grass” or “a place where one gathers.” It is precisely in this calmness of village life where community justice is arbitrated painstakingly, where victim confronts perpetrator in order to arrive at justice and reconciliation. In J. Coll Metcalfe’s insightful documentary In the Tall Grass the viewer watches unfold in the remote countryside of Megara the drama of a woman’s search for justice and inner peace. To set the stage, the producer conveys the spark that caused the explosive behavior of the Hutus, the plane crash of Rwandan president Juvénal Habyarimana on 6 April 1994. He then lays out the bloody images of mutilated bodies and scores of skulls to indicate the vast extent of the murdering spree during this collective madness. The narrator reminds the viewer that the killings took place on such a massive scale that the Hutus had a difficult time finding Tutsis to kill. A traumatized Joanita Mukausanga asks that the old ritual gacaca now bring before the community the accused Antanese Butera,...
You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.
This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.
Do you have any questions? Contact us.Or login to access all content.