Erin Flom, Guest Writer

In this screen capture from “Sweet Dreams,” Rwandan women perform in the drumming group.
In this screen capture from “Sweet Dreams,” Rwandan women perform in the drumming group.

The film “Sweet Dreams” will be screened next week at Pacific Lutheran University. It’s a perfect fit, as this semester marks the beginning of PLU’s Holocaust and Genocide Studies minor.

The film follows women of the first female drumming group in Rwanda.

Not only does this group break gender roles, but it also brings women together from two sides of a tragedy. Rwanda’s two main ethnic groups, Hutu and Tutsi, had strong tensions between them. In 1994, these tensions turned into a violent climax in the form of genocide. Within a few months, more than 800,000 Tutsi were killed. 20 years later, the people of Rwanda are still in the process of reconciliation.

The women in the film were only children or young adults when the genocide happened, but they carry the scars of the genocide, some of them literal, said professor Kirsten Christensen of the Holocaust and Genocide Studies program.

Through their drumming group, both Hutu and Tutsi women are able to join together.

“It’s humbling to see these women have the capacity for joy after a genocide,” Christensen said.

Not only do these women seek their creative goals of performing, but they also pursue a business in the form of an ice cream shop called Sweet Dreams to help fund their drumming.

Christensen said this film examines what it takes to live after a genocide.

The film follows the ups and downs of starting a business and allows both Hutu and Tutsi women to tell their stories of the genocide.

“[The film] doesn’t sugarcoat anything,” Christensen said.

Many PLU students had not been born, or were too young to remember this terrible event in history. It’s important to remind students of how recently genocide has occurred, Christensen said.

The film was an obvious choice for PLU, Christensen said. “Sweet Dreams” has connections to various programs, including women’s and gender studies, business and holocaust and genocide studies.

To help process the heavy topics discussed in “Sweet Dreams,” its Academy Award winning director, Lisa Fruchtman, will be at the screening for a Q-and-A.

Ice cream will also be served after the film by local business Ice Cream Social.

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