“Sweet Dreams”: After Atrocity, Ice Cream

Sweet Dreams If a screenwriter proposed a fictional tale set in Rwanda — not all that long after the genocide, when the psychological wounds are still fresh — about an all-female drumming troupe that partners with Brooklyn hipsters to create Rwanda's first ice cream shop, they would likely get laughed out of the room for being impossibly sentimental, and maybe a little tasteless. But these events happened in real life, and Lisa and Rob Fruchtman's documentary Sweet Dreams tells the story of how the Inzozi Nziza ice cream shop came to be with help from Brooklyn's Blue Marble Ice Cream. The struggles of forming a co-operative become part of the healing process — and after such darkness, why not bring light in the form of ice cream, which most Rwandans have never even tasted? Though there's some archival footage, the film is more powerful as an oral history: The women recounting telling their stories from the genocide is far more devastating than seeing it happen. In the present day, a sense of menace is provided by the local men, who don't actively interfere with the building of the shop, yet are always glaring and seem disapproving (at best) of women taking such initiative. But these Rwandan women did, and Sweet Dreams is a testament to their triumph.

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