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Munyurangabo FilmPoster.jpeg
Directed by Lee Isaac Chung
Produced by Lee Isaac Chung
Written by Lee Isaac Chung
Samuel Gray Anderson
Starring Jeff Rutagengwa
Cinematography Lee Isaac Chung
Edited by Lee Isaac Chung
Release date
  • 24 May 2007 (2007-05-24) (Cannes Film Festival)
Running time
97 minutes
Country Rwanda
United States
Language Kinyarwanda

Munyurangabo is a 2007 film directed by Lee Isaac Chung. Filmed entirely in Rwanda with local actors, it is the first narrative feature film in the Kinyarwanda language.[1] It premiered in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival on 24 May [2] and won the Grand Prize at the 2007 AFI Fest [3] American critic Roger Ebert calls it "in every frame a beautiful and powerful film — a masterpiece."[4]


After stealing a machete from a market in Kigali, Munyurangabo and his friend Sangwa leave the city to return to their village. Munyurangabo seeks justice for his parents, who were killed in the Rwandan Genocide, while Sangwa wants to return to the home he left years ago. Although the two boys had planned to stay only a few hours, they end up spending several days. But, because they are from two different tribes, their friendship is sorely tried. Sangwa's parents distrust Munyurangabo, and warn their son that Hutus and Tutsis are supposed to be enemies.



According to The New York Times, prior to the making of the film, director Lee Isaac Chung's wife Valerie, an art therapist, had traveled to Rwanda as a volunteer to work with those affected by the 1994 genocide. At her urging, Chung accompanied her to Rwanda and volunteered to teach a filmmaking class at a relief base in Kigali in the summer of 2006. Sensing an opportunity to present the contemporary reality of Rwanda and to provide his students with practical film training, Chung arrived with a nine-page outline which he had written with the help of old friend (and the film's eventual co-producer and co-writer) Samuel Gray Anderson. Chung shot Munyurangabo over 11 days, working with a team of nonprofessional actors Chung found through local orphanages and his students as crew members.[5]

Critical reception[edit]

Munyurangabo has received highly positive reviews from critics. The film received an 95% approval rating from critics on aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes and an average rating of 7.7/10, based on 21 reviews.[6]

Roger Ebert calls Munyurangabo "in every frame a beautiful and powerful film — a masterpiece."[4] In his 2007 Cannes Film Festival review, Variety critic Robert Koehler describes it as "by several light years -- the finest and truest film yet on the moral and emotional repercussions of the 15-year-old genocide that wracked Rwanda."[7] Writing in Film Comment, the late critic Robin Wood similarly described the film as a "masterpiece" and "an authentically beautiful film."[8]

Subsequent development[edit]

Lee Isaac Chung continues to mentor young Rwandan filmmakers through Almond Tree Rwanda, the Rwandan outpost for his U.S.-based production company, Almond Tree Films. Almond Tree Rwanda has produced several acclaimed shorts that have traveled to international festivals.[9]


Official Selection


  1. ^ Simon Kingsley (31 August 2006). "Features eligible for Teutonic coin". Variety. Retrieved 7 April 2015. 
  2. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Munyurangabo". Retrieved 20 December 2009. 
  3. ^ Michael Jones (12 November 2007). "AFI honors ‘Munyurangabo’". Variety. Retrieved 7 April 2015. 
  4. ^ a b Roger Ebert (22 July 2009). "Munyurangabo". Retrieved 7 April 2015. 
  5. ^ Lim, Dennis (23 March 2008). "Rwanda, Speaking in Its Own Voice". The New York Times. 
  6. ^ "Munyurangabo". 29 May 2009. Retrieved 7 April 2015. 
  7. ^ Robert Koehler (26 May 2007). "Liberation Day". Variety. Retrieved 7 April 2015. 
  8. ^ "A Better Tomorrow: Munyurangabo". Film Comment. Retrieved 21 March 2014. 
  9. ^ Christopher Vourlias (4 February 2012). "U.S. shingle grows Rwanda film biz". Variety. Retrieved 21 March 2014. 

External links[edit]