Hilversum, 1997: Golden Statue (Dutch Emmy)
Utrecht, 1997: Nomination Dutch Academy Award
In 1993 Molenaar and Van Wijk filmed in NW Tanzania their award winning documentary film ISINGIRO HOSPITAL.
Two years later, CROSSROADS was made in the same area, near the Tanzanian border with Rwanda and Burundi, at the crossroads of 2 main routes, leading from Uganda to Tanzania and from Kenia to then Zaïre.
A few years ago Mama Shillingi began her hotelli near the crossroads. She offered food and shelter to the many truck drivers passing there. The news and information coming from these travellers she considered mostly as rumours and gossip.
Until, in 1994, hundreds of bodies came floating down the nearby Kagera river. Immediately followed by enormous amounts of refugees that came pouring out of Rwanda. Within a few days 600,000 people had settled in the until then god-forgotten area.
In their wake followed hundreds of Western helpers and development workers.
Around Mama Shillingi's hotelli, a nameless settlement consisting of just three huts grew a booming-town which got the name Benaco.
CROSSROADS tells the story of a few of the very first inhabitants.
How Mama Shillingi's trade began to grow by the invasion of the hundreds of thousand of refugees. And how it didn’t take long before the fear for the newcomers arrived, too. Had not many of them taken an active part in the cruel killings in Rwanda?
The Judge, who sees his task – for the same old small government official’s salary – grow tenfold. He’s sure that the mostly rather innocent transgressions sink into nothingness compared to the horrible crimes that have been committed.
The Insurance Agent appreciates the arrival of the refugees and their caretakers in yet another way: ‘The more development, the more accidents. So, the need to be insured can only increase...’.
Without ceremony and sometimes abashing plainness they and the other inhabitants sketch a moving image of the sudden changes in their lives at the crossroads. Without knowing what will happen. How things should go on...
What happened, now we know: By the end of 1996 the refugees from Rwanda and Burundi were breaking news again: Biblical scenes of an all but endless stream of people, on their way back to Rwanda.
After two years Benaco is what it ever was, a desolate crossing of 2 roads.
A barren black spot in the great green African savannah...
Joop Van Wijk
Melle van Essen
Hens van Rooij
Hens van Rooij
Kees de Groot