Now playing in select cinemas
There are plenty of un-cheery movies out there. Usually the epics about genocide and other gargantuan atrocities are held back until the end of the year so we can ooh and ahh over the gritty realism and pour through the media blitz that is Oscar® campaign season. “Beyond the Gates,” however, is opting for a discreet entrance into the arthouses, as it needs no bells and whistles to announce its quiet perfection. Filmed on location in Rwanda (where many crew members had lost family members), it captures the horrors that took place there in the mid-90s as a U.N.-protected school became the only safe haven, until it too was too much to protect. The astounding John Hurt and endlessly-likable Hugh Dancy run the school, doing God’s work and giving what education they can to the local children. It is a simple story of a few people trying to protect a culture, only accentuated on the periphery with stories of politics, the limited media coverage, and the struggle to keep the U.N. officers on hand to safeguard them all. What the film accomplishes so beautifully, is to tell a story of life and death and all the hopes and fears that fall in between. It is quite the experience, and a remarkable refresher course for those of us who have forgotten (or who never paid attention in the first place) to the goings-on in that forgotten part of the world.