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Creating the WitnessDocumenting Genocide on Film, Video, and the Internet$
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Leshu Torchin

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780816676224

Published to Minnesota Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816676224.001.0001

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Reflections on the World Stage

Reflections on the World Stage

Imagining Fields of Witnessing for Rwanda and the Balkans

(p.99) 3 Reflections on the World Stage
Creating the Witness

Leshu Torchin

University of Minnesota Press

This chapter examines the ways in which dramatizations of the genocides in Bosnia and Rwanda addressed the failure of audiovisual media technologies to contribute to generating significant responses and producing action from the international community and how, in doing so, they enhanced the portrait of the contemporary media terrain. Despite the global media technologies that provided wide-ranging and immediate reportage of ethnic cleansing in the Balkans and in Rwanda, the events were seen to transpire on the world stage to a sluggish and minimal response. Such overwhelming failure raised powerful questions regarding the “peculiar post-modern combination of instant transparency and vividness together with instant deniability and disappearance.” This angst hinted at the persistent faith in the benefits of visibility and exposure, presuming that witnessing should have inspired response. This chapter shifts its focus from the field of witnessing off screen to the ones depicted on screen by considering a number of films, including Before the Rain, No Man’s Land, Sometimes in April, and Hotel Rwanda.

Keywords:   genocide, Bosnia, Rwanda, audiovisual media, ethnic cleansing, Balkans, witnessing, films, Before the Rain, Hotel Rwanda

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