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GREY MATTER (Matière Grise)

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GREY MATTER (Matière Grise)

Director: Kivu Ruhorahoza
Rwanda   |   2011   |   100 minutes
Kinyarwanda and French, with subtitles in English
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FILM INFORMATION

Synopsis Set in Kigali, Rwanda’s capital, this radiantly self-referential film-within-a-film describes the vision and trials of a determined filmmaker named Balthazar, as he tries to produce his first feature, The Cycle of the Cockroach. The trenchant drama, about a brother and sister dealing with the aftermath of genocide, finds no support from agencies only interested in funding upbeat policy-friendly films. As Balthazar borrows recklessly from a loan shark, the Cycle plays out on the screen, subtly measuring the horror and systematic madness of events hardly unique to Rwanda, while offering bracing insight into the nature of political violence.


About the Director Kivu Ruhorahoza was born in Kigali, Rwanda in 1982. A self-taught filmmaker, he won the award for Best African Short at Montreal’s 25th Pan African International Film Festival and Best Short at the Kenya International Film Festival in 2009 for his short film, Lost in the South. He has also produced an experimental documentary, Rwanda 15, with New York saxophonist Jeremy Danneman for the Parade of One project. Grey Matter is his first feature film and the first feature-length narrative film produced in Rwanda by a native Rwandan filmmaker.


Available Screening Formats DVD, Digibeta.


Click here for Non-Theatrical & Exhibition screening information


NOW PLAYING: Check the film calendar for current screenings.


Featured in the Global Lens 2012 film series.



CAST

Justine - Ruth Shanel Nirere
Yvan - Ramadhan Shami Bizimana
Balthazar - Hervé Kimenyi
The Commission Guy - Jean Pierre Kalonda
Mary - Natasha Muziramakenga
The Money Lender - Kennedy Mazimpaka

CREW

Director - Kivu Ruhorahoza
Writer - Kivu Ruhorahoza
Executive Producers - David Budge, Joel Betts
Producers - Kivu Ruhorahoza, Dominic Allen
Director of Photography - Ari Wegner
Editor - Antonio Rui Ribeiro
Sound - Eugène Safari
Music - Sophie Nzayisenga
REVIEWS

“Can film as a medium communicate the unthinkable and unknowable consequences of mass tragedy? When you're dealing with an event as devastating and massive as the Rwandan Genocide of 1994, where over 800,000 people were killed in a matter of months, any type of definitive answer undoubtedly comes up short. So instead of trying to make sense of the madness through traditional storytelling techniques, Grey Matter embraces a disjointed film-within-a-film structure to examine the ghostly qualities of competing perspectives and experiences. Here, personal and collective malaise is organically linked through a sense of indefinite emotional overlap, where the lingering consequences of personal trauma are made national, and vice versa.” – Slant Magazine

“Without the prelude offering a certain measure of political and personal context, Grey Matter might still have made for an effectively sobering representation of the psychic scars that still haunt many Rwandans after the 1994 genocide. But by making us aware, through that prologue, of the artist behind it all, Ruhorahoza dares to demolish fiction's inherent distance from what might be considered ‘reality.’” – Slant Magazine

"[B]y making us aware...of the artist behind it all, Ruhorahoza dares to demolish fiction's inherent distance from what might be considered 'reality.'" – Slant Magazine

“Grey Matter offers a rare narrative insight into the “burden of surviving” for multiple sectors of the Rwandan population. Kivu transformed his catharsis into a poignant representation of how genocide so deeply impacts individuals and how survivors manage to move on.” – Righteous Pictures

“Young Rwandan director Kivu Ruhorahoza offers a searing political view of the minor metropolis’s cultural modernity and modest prosperity...Ruhorahoza reveals the quietly terrifying depiction of violence-induced madness to be the obverse of the policy of calculated, forward-looking oblivion; his brilliant ending distills the paradoxes of normalcy atop a volcano of blood into a single, stinging shot.” – The New Yorker

“The film, which has its world premiere on April 21, blends fantasy and reality in its portrayal of the aftermath of the genocide in Rwanda as seen through the eyes of a novice director struggling to make a film called “The Cycle of the Cockroach.” – The New York Times

"In the film’s movement among realities (including the brother’s false reality, with sounds of gunfire and visions of burning bodies) art is also the apparent salvation of the filmmaker Balthazar. In the final scene the camera pulls slowly back from a close-up of a singer to reveal moviemaking apparatus and a crew. A single hand rests on Balthazar’s shoulder, seeming to comfort him as he creates. This subtle moment has a softness, a heart, that lifts the film beyond any narrative tricks." – The New York Times

“Acutely probing…From despair, art.” – The New York Times

“A penetrating and artistic cross-section of a country's shattered psyche…Ruhorahoza's debut marks the very first feature-length narrative film directed by a Rwandan filmmaker living in his homeland.” ” – Tribeca Film Festival

“Audacious and experimental….the film speaks of recent horrors and genocide with great originality.” – Jury of the Tribeca Film Festival

“The Cycle begins—or continues—as two understated, unannounced, quietly appalling sequences, from the prisoner driven to bloodlust by a series of maddening radio broadcasts, to a set of siblings orphaned by the genocides of the 90s, brittle Justine (Ruth Shanel Nirere) trying bravely to haul Yvan (Shami Bizimana, mostly in a motorcycle helmet) back together in the wreckage of their emptied house. Yvan’s suffering his own hallucinations, and the pall of unreality covers everything—otherwise, we realize, it becomes too much to bear. Spare and echoing, Grey Matter proceeds with elegance—cleverly founded in an artist’s struggle to work, it then proceeds to film’s real labor: working through the struggle to live.” – The L Magazine

"Maybe a touch of Fellini’s 8 1/2 in there perhaps, as films that center on filmmakers in some turmoil, as the dream world blurs with reality, are often compared to." – Indiewire

"There’s a deep, pent-up rage bubbling throughout the film, one that never quite explodes but is still thoroughly felt. Finally, we have a contemplative film on the disgusting tragedy that took place in the East African country, one that recognizes it as a severely traumatic, complicated, and long-lasting event and not something ripe for Oscar bait...When potential funders for the film insist the themes are too bleak and encourage Balthazar to make a "message" film that raises awareness about gender-based violence or HIV/AIDS instead, he refuses to give up -- even if it drives him to the edge." – Indiewire

FESTIVALS & AWARDS

2011
Best Actor; Special Jury Mention; Nominated for Best Narrative Feature Film, TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL


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