Ithaca College screened Telling Truths in Arusha, a powerful documentary by Norwegian filmmaker Beate Arnestad, on February 11, 2013, at 7 p.m. in Textor 103. A discussion with filmmaker Beate Arnestad and prosecutor Brian Wallace, moderated by politics professor Dr. Peyi Soyinka-Airewele, followed the screening. This screening and discussion took place in conjunction with a class on International Human Rights Litigation being taught at the college this spring by Scholar in Residence Sonali Samarasinghe.
Telling Truths in Arusha follows the case of Father Hormisdas, who was put on trial by a United Nations tribunal 15 years after his alleged involvement in the 1994 Rwandan massacre. Prosecutor Brian Wallace vigorously pursues the case, but with little hard evidence, the Norwegian judge, Erik Møse, has to base his judgment solely on witness testimony — and their versions of “the truth.”
The documentary explores the complexities of seeking justice after genocide. Arnestad handles the subject with sensitivity as she follows the legal processes that seek to bring about justice after genocide. Unique courtroom access makes this a documentary of rare insight.
Samarasinghe was one of the subjects of Arnestad’s most recent films, Silenced Voices. A lawyer and journalist who focused on government corruption in her native Sri Lanka, Samarasinghe fled the country with other members of her family in 2009 following the assassination of her husband. Silenced Voices, which will be screened at this spring’s Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival, tells the story of the civil war in Sri Lanka from the point of view of journalists who have faced threats for exposing war crimes, corruption and massacres of civilians.
The Ithaca College Honors Program sponsored the February 11 screening and discussion, with co-sponsorship from the school’s departments of politics and writing.