Title: Deo: Escape From Burundi

Director: Ole Schell

Genre: Documentary

Filmmaker Ole Schell accounts a truly harrowing experience of a man fleeing from Burundi, to the USA, to escape war and pursue his dream of becoming a doctor.

The story of this personal account goes back to October 1993, when Tutsi soldiers assassinated Burundi’s Hutu president, Melchior Ndadaye. This killing triggered ethnic violence within the country, that would ultimately leave 300,000 victims behind.

‘Deo: Escape From Burundi’ is the documentary which portrays how in those years a twenty year old medical Tutsi student – Deo Niyizonkiza – was spared from this tragedy, because he was alerted just in time. Deo heard the news of the president’s death from a friend at the hospital where he was studying, who warned him that Hutu militiamen were approaching the hospital seeking vengeance, and he managed to hide. What followed was Deo’s accomplishment of the American Dream, step by step: a friend bought him a ticket to New York where he arrived with only 200 dollars and speaking no English, after living for awhile in an abandoned tenement in Harlem and then homeless in Central Park, he made it to Columbia and Harvard Universities. What is utterly overwhelming is how Niyizonkiza eventually returned to Burundi to start his own clinic.

Deo Niyizonkiza escaped death and the misery of Burundi, but the struggles of people in his village brought him back to help them repair their lives. Therefore, Ole Schell’s documentary, besides shedding light on a chapter in history that is often ignored (as opposed to the Rwandian genocide), is inspiring for Deo’s heroic odyssey with a noble art as destination: medicine for his country of origin. This gem of a movie is literally and allegorically a story of healing.

Technical: B

Story: A

Overall: A-

Written by: Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi

Deo: Escape From Burundi Movie Review

By Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi

Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi, is a film critic, culture and foreign affairs reporter, screenwriter, film-maker and visual artist. She studied in a British school in Milan, graduated in Political Sciences, got her Masters in screenwriting and film production and studied at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute in New York and Los Angeles. Chiara’s “Material Puns” use wordplay to weld the title of the painting with the materials placed on canvas, through an ironic reinterpretation of Pop-Art, Dadaism and Ready Made. She exhibited her artwork in Milan, Rome, Venice, London, Oxford, Paris and Manhattan. Chiara works as a reporter for online, print, radio and television and also as a film festival PR/publicist. As a bi-lingual journalist (English and Italian), who is also fluent in French and Spanish, she is a member of the Foreign Press Association in New York, the Women Film Critics Circle in New York, the Italian Association of Journalists in Milan and the Federation of Film Critics of Europe and the Mediterranean. Chiara is also a Professor of Phenomenology of Contemporary Arts at IED University in Milan.

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