The award-winning documentary, "As We Forgive," that traces the aftermath of the Rwandan genocide, will screen at 6 p.m. tonight at Centerpointe Presbyterian Church, 3410 Cornerstone Court.
The film follows survivors and killers from the 1994 genocide, which took the lives of one out of eight Rwandans. After peace was restored, the government faced, in 2003, a backlog of tens of thousands court cases. Leaders then released 50,000 men who killed fellow Rwandans. The released prisoners returned to the communities where they had killed their neighbors.
Director Laura Waters Hinson asked whether people who watched their families murdered can forgive those who killed them. The 53-minute film will be followed by a discussion period.
Hinson wrote, "Many (killers) claimed to be pressured by extremist government militias to kill or be killed. Almost all of the murderers I met told me that a spiritual darkness had descended on Rwanda, transforming them into 'animals,' killers with no soul.
"I came from those interviews struggling to define these people, for I could not hate them like I'd wanted to," she added. "They committed unthinkable atrocities, but I wondered if, put in their shoes with no education but vicious government propaganda, might I have done the same?"
Centerpointe Pastor Mike Barris traveled to Rwandan earlier this year and met with genocide victims and orphans from the killing fields. He found that what Hinson describes as "radical reconciliation" is ongoing in Rwanda.
"What I witnessed on my trip to Rwanda was inspiring," Barris said. "On the one hand, the enormity of the evil that took place is beyond comprehension especially for those outside of the country that did not experience these atrocities. And yet, there is at the same time a genuine manifestation of the power of God at work in the process of reconciliation, where admission of guilt and genuine repentance by perpetrators, and forgiveness and acceptance by victims, is truly taking place."
Because of the serious nature of the film and graphic visual images, parental discretion is encouraged for those with young children through middle school age. There is no admission charge.
For more information, please see the church web site at www.centerpointechurch.info or call the office at 925-846-4436.