Already 35 years and Vues d’Afrique is still going strong in Montreal. Preceded by Marie-Josee Lord and Jean Roke Patoudem, the lineup of this year’s films resonates with the pervasive theme of liberation. Kicking off with La Misericorde de la Jungle by Joel Karekzi, the 35th edition is set to be the biggest one ever!
La Miséricorde de la Jungle/ The Mercy of the Jungle is a 2018 internationally co-produced film from Rwandan director Joël Karekezi. It tells the story of two Rwandan soldiers separated from their military unit at the beginning of the Second Congo War and their struggle to survive in a hostile jungle environment amidst intense armed conflict.
War-weary Sergeant Xavier (Marc Zinga) and fresh recruit Private Faustin (Bak) are accidentally separated from their Rwandan battalion inside Congolese territory when it is called out suddenly on a nighttime raid. They face a lack of water, food, and threats from malarial fever and jungle wildlife. The two seek to reunite with the battalion by heading westward but must remain wary of interacting with the local population given Congolese antipathy to the Rwandan Army and the presence of irregular rebel factions.
At first, the older Xavier is gruff and demanding toward the young private Faustin but a deep bond eventually develops between the two men, especially as Faustin makes critical contributions toward their survival. The film is interspersed with meditations on the horrors that have befallen the region and wider questions of meaning and mercy in times of war. Xavier is particularly haunted by the atrocities he has both witnessed and committed while Faustin is motivated by the murder of his family and a young wife he wishes to see again.
Eventually choosing to impersonate Congolese soldiers themselves, the two manage to fall in with a group of villagers who show them kindness and aid. The movie’s various plot threads—pursuing rebels, reunification with the war, and the personal journeys of the two men—converge at the film’s conclusion.