This hour-long film takes the viewer on an extraordinary journey through each of the turning points of our life cycle.
In a series of unique short films, fading in and out, our ten characters are captured through vignettes on their birthdays. Beginning with a birth and ending with a Centenarian survivor of the Armenian genocide, it examines the extraordinary ebb and flow of life.
Each Birthday provides us a unique window into an individual; it’s a day to celebrate with family and friends, but also a day to take stock of where we are- and where we are going. It’s a time of cakes and presents, and of self-reflections and examination. You will see yourself in these films, as a child, teenager or in the elderly person you may become.
A toddler looks around with wonder at this big world he has entered into, while an eight-year-old has already invented a world of her own. A fifteen-year-old understands that she may not live a long life and a twenty-one year old believes anything is possible. A thirty-year old woman searches for someone to spend the rest of her life with as fifty-year old man comes to terms with his role as an outsider. A retired accountant defies gravity with his longtime dance and a native elder is remembered by the people who love her.
Their stories are simultaneously unique and universal; they are incomplete and leave us with a sense of wonder and, depending on our age, we remember, recognize or look ahead. Happy Birthday is a lyrical documentary, a love song to life in all its wondrous phases.
In 100 days - between April 6 and July 16, 1994 - an estimated 800,000 men, women and children were brutally killed in the obscure African country of Rwanda. The victims - many horrifically hacked to death with machetes - were Tutsi, and moderate Hutus who supported them.
One man was tasked by the United Nations with ensuring that peace was maintained in Rwanda - Canadian Lieutenant General Roméo Dallaire. But unsupported by U.N. headquarters and its Security Council far away in New York, Dallaire and his handful of soldiers were incapable of stopping the genocide.
After ten years of mental torture, reliving the horrors daily and more than once attempting suicide, Roméo Dallaire has poured out his soul in an extraordinary book. Shake Hands With The Devil is a cri de coeur. The General pulls no punches in his condemnation of top UN officials, expedient Belgian policy makers and senior members of the Clinton administration who chose to do nothing as Dallaire pleaded for reinforcements and revised rules of engagement.
Dallaire is convinced that, with a few thousand more troops and a mandate to act pre-emptively, he could have stopped the killings. His impotence, at a time of extreme crisis, preys on his conscience still.
The experienced Canadian documentary production company, White Pine Pictures, secured the documentary rights to General Dallaire’s book and exclusive access to follow him during his first return trip to Rwanda, in April 2004 - the 10th anniversary of the genocide. We were there as he revisited the killing fields that haunt him.
Shake Hands With The Devil is the most powerful documentary produced about the Rwandan genocide. Unflinching. Gut-wrenching. Challenging. Hard-hitting. This is appointment television for viewers throughout the world who care about human rights and international justice.