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The 66th International Film Festival for Documentary and Animated Film, DOK Leipzig, held from October 8 to 15, 2023, showcased an array of remarkable films that captivated audiences and provided a platform for filmmakers to address pressing global issues. Among these thought-provoking films, "Kumva - Which Comes from Silence" by French director Sarah Mallégol stood out, earning accolades and recognition from the Interreligious Jury at the festival.
The Interreligious Jury, appointed by SIGNIS and INTERFILM, had the distinct honor of awarding its Prize of €2,250. This award was generously donated by the VCH-Hotels Germany, together with VCH-Hotel Michaelis in Leipzig, as well as the Interreligious Round Table and the Oratorium Leipzig. The recipient of the award was "Kumva – Ce qui vient du silence," meaning "Kumva – Which Comes from Silence."
Directed by Sarah Mallégol and produced in France in 2022, "Kumva - Which Comes from Silence" beautifully captures the profound impact of silence on the lives of those who survived the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. This poignant documentary not only delves into the horrors of the past but also highlights the pressing need for new generations to coexist in a spirit of dialogue and respect.
In "Kumva - Which Comes from Silence," the Interreligious Jury found itself deeply moved and touched by the film's central theme. Silence, in this context, acts as a powerful force that transcends language and resonates with audiences around the world. The film masterfully portrays how silence is a vessel that carries both the haunting memories of the genocide and the imperative for future generations to coexist peacefully.
Sarah Mallégol chooses to tell the story quietly and discreetly. She takes us on a journey following a group of thirty-something individuals who, as children, survived the tragic events of the 1994 Rwanda genocide. Astonishingly, these survivors have no recollection of the events that tore apart their nation, whether their fathers were victims or perpetrators.
The film captures focused conversations between generations, and it does so with a delicate touch. The director’s gentle camera work allows the story to unfold naturally, providing a safe space for these individuals to break the long-held silence. The conversations depicted on screen are not merely a reckoning with the past but an attempt to understand, process, and ultimately mourn the events that shaped their lives and their nation.
Mallégol's film is a testament to the power of storytelling in bridging generational divides and facilitating healing. The film's message is universal, reminding us that silence can be a place of pain and reflection, but it can also serve as a path towards understanding and reconciliation.