Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Kagame's boys cross over

The rwandan army has crossed into Congo at rutshuru, in small but signifigant numbers, 80 miles north of Goma.

For the documentary, Nelson and BJ insist that we must return to Masisi, those verdant heights, to capture our subject matter at its source and in depth. The last trip was short because of security constraints. it's a miracle we could even go at all, and this time we might be pushing our luck. A war is starting. it's not that the rwandans are up there-- in fact, the rwandan army, being relatively disciplined and salaried, is no trouble. The mai-mai militias and the interhamwe (exiled hutu killerz) are the problem. The rwandans are gunning for them, they are rag-tag as all hell, and they think all foreigners (especially americans and british) are spies. And when the war rumors fly, trigger fingers limber up.

But we rely on our guides to give us the clearance. in any case, they have camembert up there! you couldn't keep me away. And Hutu death squads love French nationals thanks to operation Licorne back in 94, when French troops blocked the tutsi advance, extending the genocide by a couple of weeks. the Interhamwe is still misty-eyed over that one. [That should be Operation Turquoise. Licorne was the botched mission to Ivory Coast last year. --Ed.]

Speaking of a slight problem or a large one-- we have been doggedly filming women in the most sensitive possible situations. it occurs to us at this point that we may face some serious questions about consent when we return. we are covering our legal bases, but the larger ethical question remains... the fact is that village women who have never watched television, who we are bribing with unrefined sugar and body soap, could consent to pretty much anything. to white men in the company of doctors, even if we are careful to ask.

i knew the line between journalism and exploitation was fine, but it is horribly uncomfortable to live out. we have now filmed two patients days before their deaths. we filmed one woman's funeral procession.

but we are doing our best. i hope the product justifies the method.

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