How Film Can Positively Influence the Wounded

By Peter Ndahiro

Working in the creation of A/V (Audio Visual) materials requires a lot of observation. In this particular field, this means listening to personal testimonies from the wounded, whether it be a group of kids at a high school in Kigali, or a group of mothers at a community centre in Rwamagana. Iʼve observed that one of the critical elements of the healing process is getting people to open up, those who canʼt reveal the pain that still lies within their heart will find it extremely difficult to overcome the nightmares that they went through. There are many techniques that are used to get people to become open, but from my observation behind the camera, itʼs remarkable to me how the use of A/V materials can overcome that challenge.

Iʼm talking about documentaries in particular. Iʼve seen many people arrive at these peace dialogues and discussions, there behaviour is skiddish, they are uncomfortable and understandably so, many of these people carry stories that they wouldnʼt tell to their best friend nevermind a group of complete strangers and a camera guy. Thatʼs where the documentary comes in, one like A Nation to Heal, showing people the different wounds that people face today in our society. I believe when people see others revealing there scars and dark truths, it has that knock on effect, the people in the documentary giving their testimonies are unconsciously liberating the audience to do the same. Once the documentary is over, sure people can be emotional, take some time to absorb what they have heard, but believe me when I say that there will always be hands raised ready to share testimony or just comment on what they have just saw. 

When hand begin to be raised, discussion is starting, people are beginning to feel free, much more open, this is where the healing process can really begin. If there had been no film and we just sat with a camera telling these people that we wanted to record their experiences and try and get them to dialogue, I think the results would not be half as genuine . Not only do these citizens see that their neighbours are also suffering from wounds, but they also get a glimpse into the enormous effort that NAR puts into these healing activities, informing them that we are serious about what we do, reaffirming the legitimacy of this safe space where we can all share our experiences.

So my point is this, observing from behind the camera, Iʼve seen that the use of A/V materials has had an enormously positive influence on the work in healing that NAR has been doing. Sometimes we limit the use of film to jovial entertainment, but from what I have seen it can and has been doing so much more.