Dir/scr: Raoul Peck.US-Rwa. 2005. 140mins.
The biggest obstacle to SometimesIn April, Raoul Peck's worthy, emotionally-stirring and thought-provokingaccount of 1994's Rwandan massacre of the Tutsi minority lies, paradoxically,in the success of rival feature Hotel Rwanda.
Sometimes In April is superior to Hotel Rwanda on severalfronts, including the fact that it has less of a Hollywood-style storyline thanTerry George's film, nominated for three Oscars and a rival in competition atBerlin.
At a leisurely 140 minutes,Peck's drama also offers much quiet time that allows audiences to considerethical questions rather than being caught up in the headlong narrative flow.Given its own merits, which are considerable, Sometimes In Aprildeserves to do well - but the extent of world demand for another depiction ofthe Rwandan genocide is questionable.
It also remains to be seenhow comfortable pro-American audiences will be with the film's politics, whichput the blame for the lack of intervention squarely on the Americans,characterised mostly as selfish bad guys (journalists, policy-makers) save forDebra Winger's official.
The story is largely seenthrough the eyes of Augustin (Elba), a morally upright Hutu army officer, as hetries to save his Tutsi wife Jeanne (Karemera) and their three children in1994.
Time is also given toAugustin's strained relationship with his brother Honore (Erhuero), one of theradio personalities who urged the Hutus on to more and more killing.
The narrative structure isuncomfortably similar to Hotel Rwanda, though it imaginatively splitsthe narrative chronology between the events of 1994 and those of 2004, whichcover Honore's trial in Tanzania.
It allows thepolitically-minded Peck to examine questions of genocide and the importance ofbearing witness, with some fairly explicit links to the language of the JewishHolocaust.
Unlike in his earlier work,one gets a sense here that Peck really wants to understand what happened ratherthan just focus on heroic individual actions amid the inexplicable.
Acting from the principalsis always strong and thoroughly convincing, with an amazing consistency oftalent and believability in the secondary characters.
Technical credits are good,with the authenticity of an on-location shoot visible, though some scenes needsound remixing.
Prod cos: Velvet Film, Yolo Films, Cinefacto
Int'l sales: HBO Films
Exec prods: Raoul Peck, JoelStillerman
Prod: Daniel Delume
Cine: Eric Guichard
Ed: Jacques Comets
Prod des: Benoit Barouh
Music: Bruno Coulais
Main cast: Idris Elba, CaroleKaremera, Pamela Nomvete, Oris Erhuero, Fraser James, Noah Emmerich, DebraWinger