Notre-Dame du Nil
France, Belgium, Rwanda, 2019
93 minutes, Color
Set in 1973, this coming-of-age portrait follows a group of young Rwandan girls at a Belgian-run Catholic boarding school, taking inspiration from true events that would come to foreshadow the 1994 genocide during the Rwandan Civil War. Many of the girls belong to elite families, while others hold less privilege; further division is sown by ballooning anti-Tutsi rhetoric under existing Hutu rule. The terrain is tense, but in the foreground lies a bewitching yet unassuming story of colonial refusal, flanked by adolescent mischief and curiosity that is surely typical but has, in this case, much higher stakes. Our Lady of the Nile bears the immersion, contemplation, and hypnotic cinematography for which award-winning director Rahimi has become known. A surprise hit comes from the young Rwandan actors, whose first-appearance performances have seasoned depth, capturing a moment in history through the eyes of those so rarely consulted.—Toronto International Film Festival
In French and Kinyarwanda with English subtitles
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