Shot over the course of six years, the stirring “Rising From Ashes” charts the growth of the Rwanda national cycling team from inception to the Olympics, a success story badly needed by a nation still reeling from the mass genocide of a generation earlier. Engaging personalities and lively, good-looking assembly make T.C. Johnstone’s inspirational sports docu a crowdpleaser that should appeal to broadcast programmers and home-format distribs, with niche theatrical possible.
The story is told primarily via cycling legend Jock Boyer, the first American to compete in the Tour de France. But by 2005, he’d hit dark times; the pic provides little detail beyond noting his conviction for lewd conduct with a minor. Released from jail in his 50s, he found the beginnings of his own path to redemption when longtime cycling friend Tom Ritchey suggested he assemble and coach a racing team in Rwanda. Initially reluctant, Boyer was taken in by the raw talent at hand, particularly gifted amateur Adrien Niyonshuti, who’d lost 60 relatives in the 1994 bloodbath. The path from early training to international competitions is engaging, abetted by colorful lensing and an Afropop soundtrack.