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Film Challenges Viewers to Love Enemies and Reminds Them of Christ's Ultimate Sacrifice

"Beyond the Gates" Shares the Story of the Rwandan Genocide Through the Eyes of The Survivors

 

Contact: Kristin U. Cole, 972-267-1111 x215, kristin@alarryross.com

 

NEW YORK, Feb. 6 /Christian Newswire/ -- BEYOND THE GATES, a new film set to make its U.S. debut in March, is not just another film about the Rwandan genocide, but a film that depicts the power of Christ's love to all – friend and enemy – and ultimately asks, "What would you sacrifice to make a difference?"

A Michael Caton-Jones film, BEYOND THE GATES depicts the shocking events of the 1994 Rwandan genocide and the lives of those affected. The film tells the powerful story of how Ecole Technique Officielle (ETO), a secondary school in Kigali, Rwanda being used as a UN army base, became a refugee camp for the Tutsi people. Belgian UN troops, school children, NGO workers and over 2,500 Tutsi citizens and their sympathizers took refuge against a raging genocide while the Hutu militia, clad with machetes, clamored outside the school gates.

Five days later, the UN troops withdrew from the school, taking the whites with them. Within hours, almost all of the Rwandans were dead.

Filmed in Rwanda at the ETO with genocide survivors as cast and crew, BEYOND THE GATES tells their shared story of humanity in the most inhumane circumstances and the hope of Christ that was, for most, the only hope that existed.

"It was very difficult [to film]," said actor and consultant Karasira Venuste, whose family took refuge at ETO on April 7, 1994. "I had to walk away sometimes because it brought back memories that were very difficult for me."

Karasira lost his entire family during the genocide, including his daughter, and was violently injured, which resulted in the loss of his arm. On many occasions, Karasira watched the story unfold in front of his eyes.

"I was determined to be part of this film," Karasira said. "We must show what happened here – show the world and hope that this will never happen again."

BEYOND THE GATES stars John Hurt, Hugh Dancy and Clare-Hope Ashitey. Producer David Belton also co-wrote the original story for the film which was inspired by his own experiences in Rwanda while covering the genocide for the BBC's current affairs television program, "Newsnight." While in Rwanda, Belton and his team were sheltered by a Bosnian priest named Vjeko Curic who was one of only two non-African priests who stayed in Rwanda throughout the genocide.

"While the international community failed to act and war raged on, people like Vjeko Curic stayed and made a difference by saving lives and offering protection," said Belton. "These people did what no one else did – they provided hope – and they did so because the love of Christ empowered them."

It was only in their last night with Curic that the priest confided in Belton's team that he was sheltering many Tutsis from the militias and had secretly been ferrying them out of the country in the bottom of his truck. Curic's love and commitment to the Tutsi people became the inspiration for BEYOND THE GATES' main character, Father Christopher, played by Hurt.

The film was premiered to more than 3,000 Rwandan people in March 2006. The President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, endorsed the film wholeheartedly saying, "The film is going to be a continued part of our memory relating to genocide."

"The film is a very powerful depiction of the terrible events that took place in my country in 1994," said Joseph Habineza, Rwandan Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture. "A number of films have now been made about the genocide but few, if any, have tackled the story with such honesty and emotional depth. It is a film that everyone should see in the hope that the international community will not abandon those who are in need ever again."

The film was chosen as an official selection at the Toronto Film Festival, London Film Festival and Human Rights Watch Film Festival. In addition, the film was awarded the Truly Movie Picture Award at the 2006 Heartland Film Festival.

BEYOND THE GATES opens in New York City March 9 with additional cities opening March 16 including Boston, Chicago, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, D.C. For more information, visit www.beyondthegates-movie.com.

NOTE: To request a screener or interview with Producer David Belton, contact Kristin Cole at 972.267.1111 or kristin@alarryross.com.