Sweet Dreams: A Powerful Documentary Charting Rwanda’s Rebirth


How do you coexist with people who once engineered and carried out the attempted annihilation of you and your family? It’s an age-old question that is depressingly still relevant across the globe.

Sibling co-directors Lisa and Rob Fruchtman narrow the query to Rwanda, as it continues to rebuild and re-imagine itself following the horrors of the 1994 genocide, in which the country’s Hutus slaughtered nearly 1 million Tutsi citizens in perverse payback for the favoritism shown the Tutsis by the colonial Belgians.

Flash to the present, and female survivors of that tragedy have come together (widows and orphans, Hutu and Tutsi) to form an all-woman drumming troupe that quickly evolves into a daring business undertaking — the women form a co-op whose goal is to open Inzozi Nziza (Sweet Dreams), Rwanda’s first-ever ice cream shop. From flaunting cultural taboos against women even touching a drum, to introducing a new dessert to their country, the women break old rules and new ground, introducing radical ways of female being to the “new Rwanda.”

It’s utterly rousing watching the women master their instruments and then push past the birth pains of their new business enterprise, and it’s completely wrenching as their individual backstories unfold. The vibrantly filmed Dreams (the Rwandan landscape is breathtaking) is a powerful entry in the list of documentaries charting the country’s rebirth, illustrating the unexpected ways the human spirit reinvents itself after enduring the unthinkable.

Subscribe to the Voice Film Club podcast

This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 30, 2013

Archive Highlights