Sweet Dreams screens at the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute on October 20 at 5:15pm. *Photo supplied
Sweet Dreams screens at the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute on October 20 at 5:15pm. *Photo supplied

This is a documentary that will warm your heart and tear it apart at the same time. 

Screening as part of Bermuda Docs, it tells how a group of women have partially overcome the trauma of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda through shared goals, aspirations and achievement.

The seemingly unrelated activities of joining a drumming troupe and launching an ice cream businesses come together as tools of healing for the women of Inzozi Nziza, most of whom have lost husbands, friends or children. They are taught to transfer the skills and energy from the drums into a business setting. We see how one woman, Odile Kiki Katese, felt compelled to help her fellow Rwandans by grouping the women together from both sides of the conflict towards the common goals. But the film does not ignore the brutal details of what happened in this country.

Nearly one million people were killed during the genocide as the Hutus turned on the Tutsis. Some had been friends and neighbours before power was taken over by the Hutus after the 40-year rule of Belgium.

There are some horrifying moments — the stories don’t get any easier to hear the more you hear and there are many. 

Video footage of the genocide is sparse but there are some harrowing images of piled up bodies that leave a lasting impression. We flick through family albums and watch as widows and orphans of men killed or imprisoned break down. We see the community gather for the annual remembrance day in April where women have to be taken out of the stadium hysterical with grief.

Marta is one character you will warm to — her soul seems to fly when she plays the drums yet she is tortured by the knowledge that her husband was hacked to death and left to rot on the side of a road. 

She recalls how she wanted to move his body so the dogs wouldn’t eat it but they tried to hunt her down too as she was carrying the baby of a Tutsi. 

Sweet Dreams demonstrates the resilience of the human spirit. But while these women have found a way to pull through, we are left wondering what the lives of other Rwandans are like — we don’t learn much about that aside from the grief that is
communicated through our women’s stories.

As well as these painful recollections, this film covers the anticipation, excitement and camaraderie of launching the ice cream business, and the euphoria of performing in the drum corps. It is well worth watching. 

Sweet Dreams screens at BUEI on October 20 at 5:15pm. Tickets are available at www.bdatix.bm