The Symposium on Genocide and Human Rights will explore themes of rebuilding, recovering and struggling for justice through the documentary work in progress “A Song for my Sister” on Thursday, Feb. 21. Told through the voice of refugees from Congo, members of the HWS and Geneva communities are invited to the screening of the moving film and a performance by the Foundation of Hope. A workshop with Joanna Heatwole, one of the film’s co-directors, will be held earlier on Thursday.
In wake of the Gatumba Massacre of 2004, co-director Princesse Nabintu and her sisters, Sandra Uwiringiyimana and Adele Kibasumba, escaped the country and settled with their family in Rochester, N.Y. The documentary will be screened at 7 p.m. in the Sanford Room. The event is free and open to the public.
“This is an extraordinary opportunity for our students and the campus community to interact with a group of young Congolese survivors of a genocidal massacre in Gatumba and their struggle for healing and reconciliation through faith, human rights advocacy, witnessing and music,” says Dobkowski. “We will also be introduced to the challenges of documenting this process through compassionate and emotional interviewing and filmmaking.”
Following the screening, Heatwole and film participants Sandra Uwiringiyimana and Adele Kibasumba will join the audience in discussing the process of collaborative grassroots filmmaking and concrete ways that students and community members can participate in the ongoing process toward peace.
The event will also be highlighted with a performance by Foundation of Hope, a multinational organization based at New Hope Church in Rochester. Comprised of African Refugees and Americans, the group will share traditional healing music and their work providing education for war orphan refugees and other at-risk youth in Rwanda.
Prior to the screening, discussion and performance, the Symposium will host a hands-on workshop led by Heatwole at 3:30 p.m. in the Fisher Center. Joined by Uwiringiyimana and Kibasumba, Heatwole will meet with students and faculty to talk about her personal experiences making the documentary, and the challenges she faced in creating an authentic emotional connection with the audience. The workshop will also explore questions of compassionate approaches to the interviewing process.
Nabintu was born in the South Kivu region of Congo to a Banyamulenge Tutsi family. Nabintu had just completed high school exams when war forced her family to flee to Burundi. In 2007, after surviving the Gatumba massacre, Nabintu’s family resettled as refugees in Rochester, N.Y. Nabintu worked as an interpreter and caseworker for refugee services agencies before completing a B.A. in intercultural studies at Houghton College. She currently lives and works in Kigali, Rwanda, for an international college exchange program.
After completing an MFA from the Visual Studies Workshop, Heatwole served as managing editor for Afterimage: The Journal of Media Arts and Cultural Criticism. From 2006-2010, she was assistant professor of Time-Based Media in the Division of Visual Art at Roberts Wesleyan College. Heatwole currently freelances in the media arts.
The photo above features Joanna Heatwole (left) and Sandra Uwiringiyimana.