Rising From Ashes Film Review

Film Review by Jon E Clist
Rising From Ashes

The Premise
Rising from Ashes is a feature length documentary about two worlds colliding when cycling legend Jock Boyer moves to Rwanda, Africa to help a group of struggling genocide survivors pursue their dream of a national team. As they set out against impossible odds both Jock and the team find new purpose as they rise from the ashes of their past.

The Review
Talk about a moving cinematic experience, this film really tugged on the heart-strings while telling a very compelling story. I think the film-makers purpose statement sums it up perfectly. Rising From Ashes was created with a common goal, to tell a story of redemption, hope, and second chances. It was not about the bike, however, the bicycle became a tool that has changed a nation.” I think that is what made the film work so well for me, the fact that it was not a simple single level story, instead it had several different angles and sub stories.
Firstly we are looking at a country still affected by 1994 Rwandan Genocide where an estimated 500,000–1,000,000 Rwandans were killed. So there are millions of people left behind in pain with horrid life memories and stories. Each member of Team Rwanda has their own story of loss and pain and therefore each has a reason to be angry and potentially go down a negative path and yet through this program they have been able to move forward in a better direction.

Team Rwanda has not solved all of these problems but it is making a difference. Riders are provided a modest salary to help provide for themselves and their families, equivalent to three times the national average income. Riders are given English lessons and taught how to read and write. Healthcare is provided for the ongoing issues of malaria and water borne diseases. When funds are available, the riders are given regular health checks and dental care. Plus they are given the responsibility of being ambassadors for their country to the World.

Then of course there is the core story of coach Jock Boyer underlying the main plot with a powerful story of redemption. Here is a guy who had experienced moderate success in his given sport of cycling and yet fallen into disrepute through some poor judgement and bad life decisions. After spending a year in jail Boyer came out ready to change things up for good. When the opportunity to go to a different country and reinvent himself, Boyer saw an opportunity to repay his social debt from his time in prison. We all love a good story of redemption and so this film draws deep on that very desire in order to bring this compelling story to life through creating vivid pictures of people who will draw your empathy.
The story is powerful and the visuals perfectly matched to bring the story to life. No easy feet. In fact over six years in the making, Rising from Ashes was an epic undertaking. With production covering three continents, in some of the most challenging shooting environments in the world, the Rising from Ashes crew led by Director T.C. Johnstone chased this incredible story. the result is an absolute cinematic success!

The Verdict
One of the best documentaries that I have seen. Truly a moving story of hope and redemption plus the power of family and team.

The Trailer

The Info
Releases: 26th June 2014
Rating: M - Contains Adult Themes
Duration: 82 minutes 
Genre:  Documentary
Starring: Narrated by Forest Whitaker, Adrien Niyonshuti, Rafiki Uwimana, Nathan Byukusenge, Abraham Ruhumuriza, Nyandwi Uwase, Jock Boyer and Tom Ritchey
Director: T.C. Johnstone (Hearing Everett: The Rancho Sordo Mudo Story)

The Extras
Rising From Ashes was produced by two partnering non-profit organizations, Gratis 7 Media Group and Project Rwanda, over the course of six years. Forest Whitaker narrated the film, which was produced with $800,000 that came exclusively from donors. Since its release in 2012, the film has won awards at more than a dozen film festivals worldwide.

To Find Out More About the Rising From Ashes Foundation Head Here...