The New Times (Kigali)

28 November 2012

Rwanda: French Bicycle Race Movie Poorly Attended

OVER the last couple of months, we have been reporting about crowds attending the Tuesday movie nights organised by Goethe-Institut.

This week, however, we are not sure what happened-because the French bicycle race movie, Hell on wheels, was poorly attended. Only half the seats in the theatre were filled despite the show being free.

Every Tuesday, Goethe-Institut, a non-profit German cultural association operating in Kigali, shows free movie nights at Ishyo Arts Centre's theatre hall.

Hell on wheels is a 2011documentary film by Academy Award-Winning Director Pepe Danquart, with original German version and English subtitles.

Despite the poor turn up, those who attended enjoyed the movie.

"I enjoyed the movie and I am glad to know that documentary films are aired to the public for free. They usually carry a lot of sense yet they are not usually watched. We are impressed to see such a good cause in Kigali," said Felix Seynabou, a Senegalese national living in Rwanda.

Patrick Muremangabo, a student at National University of Rwanda, said Hell on wheels is a beautiful film that captures the tour's defining moments, with stunning cinematography, high drama and essential viewing.

"It was an amazing master piece and the documentary captures a lot of things. I would watch it again and again," he said.

Synopsis- Jeff Shannon

There may never be a better documentary about the Tour de France bicycle race than Hell on Wheels. Directed by German filmmaker Pepe Danquart (who won an Oscar for best live action short film in 1994), this breathtaking documentary covers all aspects of the 2003 edition of the Tour de France.

Outstanding cinematography, award-winning editing, and the extreme challenge of the Tour make this a truly unforgettable film, full of real-life drama and fascinating competitors who bring a deeply human dimension to cycling's annual extravaganza.

This was the year that American cycling legend Lance Armstrong won his fifth consecutive Tour de France, but Danquart's film wisely avoids overemphasis on Armstrong's dominance, focusing instead on German teammates Eric Zabel and Rolf Aldag, whose 11-year history as Tour de France roommates lends the film a more personal quality that gets you right inside the Tour's physical and psychological endurance test.

Highlights are abundant (including Armstrong's nearly devastating crash late in the race), but Hell on Wheels goes beyond basic sports reportage to achieve the dramatic impact of a feature film.

Danquart strikes a satisfying balance between beautiful travelogue footage of the French countryside (including the Tour's scenic stages in the Pyrenees mountains) and the veteran's perspective of Zabel, whose honest assessment of his own cycling abilities makes you realise that even great cyclists view the Tour with awe, fear, and inspiring courage.

In capturing the beauty, pain, and glory of cycling's most daunting competition, Hell on Wheels caters for a specific audience while retaining its universal appeal as a colourful and exhilarating film that anyone can enjoy.

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