March 22, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Rwandan women build their own business in “Sweet Dreams”| DVD Pick

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sweetdreamsSweet Dreams. 56 min. Dist. by Liro Films. 2014. Schools $195. 1 year streaming rights $150.  Three years streaming rights $350. ISBN unavail.
Gr 9 Up–A devastating civil war in the 1990s between Hutus and Tutsis left Rwanda in an emotional and political spasm, with more than 800,000 murdered. The surviving families experienced nationwide trauma, but perhaps the unifying force of traditional drumming could help them heal. Drumming had been the exclusive domain of men until Kiki Katese created a women’s drum group, Ingoma Nshya. She recruited 60 performers, young and old, Hutus and Tutsis, to join the troupe. During an international tour, Kiki visited an ice cream shop in Brooklyn, NY, where she found the inspiration for Rwanda’s first ice cream emporium. The venture could build a cooperative of businesswomen and help fund Ingoma Nshya. In English, French, and Rwandan, with English subtitles, the film tracks the painful challenges Rwandan women face and the trajectory of an ice cream business in a country where frozen treats are mostly unknown. Suspense builds: first, when only a select few are chosen for the cooperative and again when the ice cream machine won’t function just days before the grand opening. Blending the sweet treat into African culture is a smooth metaphor for Tutsi and Hutu reconciliation in this compelling view of a success rising from the ashes of tragedy. The film allows students to begin exploring a tough topic and will reassure them that positive outcomes are possible, even in the worst situations imaginable.–Robin Levin, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum Teacher/Fellow, Ft. Washakie, WY