Even before the pandemic, the idea of confinement was not a situation that was recurring in people’s minds. At most, he remembered this fact referred to the Holocaust Jew, portrayed in literature and in the audiovisual media markedly by the experience of the young Anne Frank, who had to hide with his family in order to survive. However, this is not the only experience of war and survival of the contemporary era, and, little by little, other narratives of the dramatic experiences of victims of the many wars of the 20th century also begin to gain space in the arts, as can be seen in ‘trees of peace‘, a new drama inspired by real events that arrived this week on Netflix – and is already winning over viewers.
For three years, between 1990 and 1994, Rwanda went into a deep Civil war which resulted in the genocide of over 1 million civilians. As Tutsis chased the Hutus and moderate Hutus across the country, massacring men, women and children, some people desperately tried to hide and survive the unending war. It is in this context that we meet the couple Francois (Tongayi Chirisa) and annick (Eliane Umuhire), while she hides in the kitchen attic because she is a moderate Hutu, and he, as a teacher of Hutus and Tutsis, tries to articulate means of survival at school. Pregnant, annick hides in the attic thinking he would stay there for two or three days, hoping for the arrival of the UN, which promised to free the country. In the waiting, they end up joining her the nun Jeanette (Charmaine Bingwa), the American volunteer peyton (Ella Cannon) and the irritable young mutesi (Koleosho ball), and, over time, the four will have to ration food and survive in silence for almost three months.
What stands out most about ‘trees of peace‘ is that the director and screenwriter Alanna Brown understands the semiotic power of cinema and, even telling a story of pain and suffering that really happened, the director does not seek to explore torture as a way of connecting with the spectator. On the contrary, she makes an important and courageous choice not to portray violence in a graphic way, leaving it in the background: to tell the story of her film, Alanna he focuses his camera on the characters’ survival, not on the surrounding violence that threatens them. Thus, all the indirect actions that we know are happening (men’s voices, shots, screams, barking, etc.) not seen in the movie.
Unlike productions that also use silence as a character, like ‘a silent place‘ and ‘Jojo Rabbit‘, the drama in ‘trees of peace‘ is constructed in such a way as to elevate the strength of the four surviving women, showing how dorority (concept of Vilma Piedade that elucidates the empathic way in which black women transform pain into potency) becomes the cane on which this small group will need to lean to survive the time of confinement, despite their personal differences. Dramatic, but always seeking to bring light to the shadows in which the characters find themselves, ‘trees of peace‘ it is a war movie extremely emotional and strong that will surely make you cry.