Nearly 25 years ago, Gilbert Ndahayo lost everything.
A quarter-century later, he’s using his grief to live and celebrate life.
Ndahayo, a student in the Information and Library Science program at the School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering, will screen his new documentary, Rwanda: The Blood of the Chosen, April 13 at 6:30 p.m. in Room 048 at the Wells Library. The film interweaves the memories and family video diaries of Rwandan artists in Europe and the United States who are coping with the legacy of the genocide against the Tutsis, an ethnic cleansing that claimed the lives of as many as one million people during the spring of 1994. Ndahayo lost his parents, sister, grandparents, and 52 other family members in the killing.
The Blood of the Chosen is the third film in a trilogy of documentaries about the Rwandan genocide produced by Ndahayo.
“The Blood of the Chosen tells a story where each character, through his or her form of art, comes to tell a personal story about his or her own journey,” Ndahayo said. “It connects the lives of many who have perished and those who are living with this traumatic memory. It shows how the artists in the film not only honor those who perished but also deal with their own emotional and physical trauma through the arts.”
Ndahayo came to the United States in 2007 to present his first short film, Scars of My Days, at the Tribeca Film Festival. When he returned to Rwanda, he was summoned to the traditional gacaca, a traditional court to judge crimes of genocide. He filmed the court case, which inspired him to produce documentaries about the genocide.
Rwanda: Beyond the Deadly Pit debuted in 2009 and earned multiple nominations and awards at film festivals, including a nomination for Best Feature Documentary at the African Movie Academy Awards. The film focused on Ndahayo confronting his family’s murderers. Ndahayo’s follow-up, The Rwandan Night, was released in 2013. It told the story of Fidele Sakindi, who was four years old during the first Rwandan genocide in 1954 and is the oldest survivor of the genocides against the Tutsi. The Rwandan Night also garnered multiple nominations and awards.
Ndahayo, who graduated from Columbia University’s MFA Film Directing program in 2014, came to IU after spending a year at Northwestern University as a metadata analyst for the Melville J. Herskovits Library of African Studies. He is studying the application of cataloging methods and practices in moving images and library digitization.
“Being at SICE gives me an opportunity to study hands-on systems and practices in library cataloging,” Ndahayo said. “I am interested in the creation of original records, improving records of a complex nature, as well as trouble-shooting library (cataloging) support systems.”
Ndahayo published his first book, “Rwanda: Coming to the Memory,” in 2017, and he is currently working on his second book. He also is in production on three more films.
“The screening of The Blood of the Chosen is an opportunity for Bloomington Africans and friends of the African community to honor the 24th anniversary of the genocide against the Tutsi,” Ndahayo said. “The film will benefit from the feedback of the IU community, and I hope to continue to develop relationships and networking communities to further present Africa to the rest of the world.
For more information on Ndahayo’s work, visit his website.