Doubly disappointing considering that it marks the first feature by Rwandan filmmakers to address the country’s 1994 Hutu-on-Tutsi genocide, “Kinyarwanda” awkwardly and fitfully patches together a half-dozen story strands meant to provide a panoramic view of war and reconciliation. While any one of the tales in writer-director Alrick Brown’s debut (based on Ishmael Ntihabose’s story) may have provided plenty of grist for a movie, the sheer number of them hampers the pic’s pace and dramatic momentum. Aud prize in Sundance will boost its profile, but isn’t likely to trigger buyers’ bids.
Shifting between the genocide period and its aftermath a decade later, pic observes the interaction between a compromised priest (Kennedy Mpazimpaka) and a Muslim mufti (Jean Mutsari) who maintains peace among his faithful. There’s also a stubbornly silent Hutu man, Emmanuel (Edouard Bamporiki, last seen in “Munyurangabo”), in a reconciliation camp for perpetrators of the killings, as well as rebel combatants (Cassandra Freeman, Kena Anae Onyenjekwe) managing desperate refugees. Meanwhile, a Hutu-Tutsi marriage prior to the genocide links with Emmanuel’s crimes. Pic crucially fails to convincingly re-create the violent 1994 events, while script structuring produces a frustrating start-and-stop effect.