By Lekha Singh
When I visited Rwanda several years ago, I didn’t expect to make a film that would change my life.
I didn’t expect to find more healing than horror or to encounter the incredible resilience of people living in the aftermath of the Genocide. I met mothers who gave up the path of revenge against the men who killed their children and some who even forgave the murderer. How could justice, forgiveness, and reconciliation even be possible after what had happened? I started filming Beyond Right & Wrong because this question stayed with me long after I left Rwanda.
Sharing the stories of survivors and perpetrators from Rwanda, Northern Ireland, and Israel and Palestine, the film does not linger on the violence or trauma but instead shows the incomprehensible capacity of human beings to forgive and heal from tragedy. I’ve seen people move forward from incredible pain by delving into their own story and by hearing the story of the person who harmed them.
Every response to trauma is unique, and the film does not propose one way of healing. After travelling for seven years to collect these stories, I still can’t answer a lot of the questions the film asks. The people speak for themselves. These are their journeys, and it’s up to viewers to answer those questions for themselves.
Their evocative stories resonate with viewers because the journey toward healing can be found every day, in every place, in situations both extreme and ordinary. Many viewers approach me after screenings to share how the film touched them. Some even confided that they would reach out to estranged parents to whom they had not spoken in five, ten, or even 15 years.
The film shows the absolute strength and vulnerability of people recovering from conflict. The people in the film entrusted their loss and pain—their wounds, in a way—into all of our hands. Many of us are afraid of that vulnerability. The stories open up the wounds that we might be hiding. They open us up to the thoughts we often push away. But they also open the way for healing, reconciliation, and sometimes even forgiveness.
I want the film to open a global dialogue about trauma and about the roles that justice and forgiveness play in healing individuals and communities after tragedy. This conversation is the only way that we, as citizens of the world, can negotiate with one another peacefully. I believe these stories transform and empower people to start those conversations about justice and forgiveness in their own communities. Because of this, I partnered with FilmRaise.com to make Beyond Right & Wrong available for free. For every view, Operation Kids Foundation and Share the Mic donate $0.50 to one of the partnering charities.
Whatever your reaction, wherever you are in your journey, I know that moments of this transformative film will always stay with you. The story it tells is a human story. It’s not just about Rwanda or Northern Ireland or Israel and Palestine. It’s about everybody.
Filmmaker and photographer Lekha Singh’s work offers insight into the human condition around the world. Beyond Right & Wrong is Lekha’s directorial debut, for which she received Cause Brands’ 2014 Snowball Influencer Award. This life-changing documentary has won many awards (Best Avant Garde Film, American Psychological Association; Best Documentary Film, Fingal Film Festival; Runner-up for Best Documentary, LA Jewish Film Festival; Social Impact Award, The Collective) and garnered worldwide attention since its release in 2012. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon presented the film to the General Assembly before they adopted a far-reaching resolution for the peaceful mediation of conflict. Lekha was also an executive producer for the documentaries Midway and the Academy Award nominee Square.
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This article appears in:
2014 Catalyst, Issue 9: Inspiring Women Are Rising