Ebony Butler’s A BRILLIANT GENOCIDE deals with the largely unreported mass killings in North Uganda, combining interview and footage from the events themselves to expose and discuss the atrocities. The feature- length documentary considers the historical and political contexts which enabled these events to take place, and interweaves personal stories from survivors of the events. The film also includes a discussion of the 2012 KONY video sensation, which began a wave of viral media encouraging personal action. As such, the scope of the film is ambitious, timely and important.
In addition, one of the very things that the film is aiming to overturn – the relative rarity of reports of the events – means that the onus on the film to be informative to its audience is even greater; in aiming to thoroughly expose a complicated, multifaceted problem, the film sets itself the challenge of accurately and engagingly explaining the scenario to an audience unfamiliar with its content.
Broadly- speaking, the film manages to walk this tightrope very elegantly. The inclusion of both personal stories and political content is crucial to the overall presentation of events, but does mean that at times, the film can appear slightly unfocused. While the films’s general topic is of clear importance, and is so sensitive that could be unethical and unhelpful to the cause were any voices left unheard, it seemed that A BRILLIANT GENOCIDE couldn’t have perhaps narrowed its scope slightly in order to more thoroughly engage with a particular facet of the problem.
Contributing slightly to the sensation that the film could have been driven by a more exact focus was its varied use of additional visuals – since in addition to its core material, the film incorporates short animations, as well as explanatory title sequences and B-Roll footage. Although much of this was helpful in order to package the film in an attractive and visually interesting way, the mix of tactics did at times detract from the being a completely smooth product. However, these slight moments of frustration were infrequent in contrast to the careful and sensitive use of extremely powerful material. Throughout A BRILLIANT GENOCIDE, moving interview sequences, informative segments and powerful images from the events themselves are parcelled together in a way that is impressively engaging and not voyeuristic or gratuitous.
A BRILLIANT GENOCIDE is a powerful and unusual film. Even more impressively, it also manages to incorporate the very important human angle of the story, which is no mean feat when the contextual information around these stories is so bleak, and deals with such an astonishing levels of destruction.