From director T.C. Johnstone and narrated by Forest Whitaker comes an amazing look at a team like no other that came RISING FROM ASHES.
This documentary tells the story of the first Rwandan cycling team. Coming from a country of violence and in some cases hopelessness and genocide, it is a team of men who reach past it all. In 2012 at the Tour De France, this team becomes a symbol of hope but the documentary shares with us how they got there.
It begins in Rwanda where bicycles are an essential mode of transportation. From moving food to getting family from place to place there have been bicycles in this country. Some of the bicycles are so old they didn’t even have brakes!
In 1994, for 100 days, one million people in Rwanda were murdered as thousands would flee on those same bicycles. To help with their pain, a few young men took to cycling with the hope of bringing the sport into view.
It would be Tom Ritchey, the legendary bike builder was touring Rwanda who met the formed Team Rwanda knowing he had to help. That’s when Jock Boyer, American cyclist who was the first American to ride in the Tour De France became their coach.
From there history would be made!
FINAL WORD: It is so amazing to view this story of such remarkable young men in a country where they easily could have been less remarkable due to circumstances. Adrien Niyonshuti lost sixty (yes, that’s 6-0) family members in 1994, which included the wiping out of his mother’s family line.
Instead of becoming engrossed in his pain he turned that same pain with his feet on bicycle pedals into something magnificent. It is equally amazing that this isn’t all about cycling as the young men are offered so much more to help them succeed at their goal.
This film has won awards from the Hamptons International Film Festival winning the Brizzolara Family Foundation Award for a Film of Conflict and Resolution and also nominated for the Golden Starfish Award for T.C. Johnstone. RISING FROM ASHES also won the Audience Choice Award by the River run International Film Festival also for Johnstone.
TUBS OF POPCORN: I give RISING FROM ASHES three tubs of popcorn out of five. This truly is an interesting and thought-provoking look at a team that could have easily been beaten by the odds. Instead, they made their own odds that brought them to a place in the world they never thought possible.
Listening to these young men’s stories is very heavy on the heart but that is the point. The viewer must truly see what has been there struggle to believe in what they are trying to achieve. There is no stone unturned and this is definitely a story that is not sugar coated in any way.
Yet there is such affection between the riders and their coach, which creates such an extraordinary bond. In their humbleness they’ve become beloved by their country and ambassadors of hope – they are already winners.
In the end – it is the impossible triumph of Team Rwanda.
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