film production + social action

Archive for November, 2010

The Last Survivor comes to NYU

On Monday, October 25th, I sat in the front row of room 808 in New York University’s Kimmel Center in downtown Manhattan. I watched as Dan Rugomba, a Congolese survivor and close friend of mine, stood in front of an attentive audience with a projector screen pulled down behind him. Dan had flown in on Saturday as a special guest of UBUNTU: Students for a World Without Genocide, the NYU club that was hosting the first-ever university screening of The Last Survivor.

The audience waited in silence as Dan meditated. Then, he began.

Dan poetically articulated his heart-wrenching story; the time he saw his Aunt’s mutilated body on the television back home; the feeling of living in constant fear that one day he might be attacked; and the moment that day came, when he was separated from his entire family, who were presumably all murdered. And yet, having known Dan for over a year now, his usual, almost inexplicable, sense of hope and happiness shone through over what one would expect to be a dominant feeling of pain and loss, perhaps even anger, resulting from unthinkable tragedy.

The room was silent. The tension near tangible. And then the film began. I remember sitting in my seat, thinking to myself, “This is why we made this film.” I snuck to the back of the classroom, like I often do, to watch the reactions of the audience members. As always, they were captivated, many moved to tears.

When the film ended, Dan and I led a Q&A that was extremely lively and interactive. It lasted for 45 minutes (15 minutes over schedule) and afterward, Dan and I hung around to talk with the lingering audience members for another hour or so.

UBUNTU Club Members and Dan Rugomba

UBUNTU Club Members and Dan Rugomba

With all that is going on in today’s world — for one, the continued violence in the Congo and Darfur — the need to spread the important message of prevention has never been more important. The screening at NYU was a singular example of how inspiring individuals and an interested audience can come together to raise the volume of this collective voice.

In hopes of participating in many more screenings to come,

Samuel G