In 1999, Sven Pannell, a Kiwi traveller in Africa, escaped from a perilous run-in with rebel soldiers, bargaining for his life with a wad of cash he had hidden in his boot. Broke and without any place to stay, Pannell came across a crippled, homeless samaritan named Johnson, who fed and sheltered him until he was able to flee the region. He left in such a hurry he never got the chance to thank him.
A decade later, Pannell returned to Rwanda with the hope of doing just that. Armed with a camera and a surfeit of optimistic pluck, he launches a dogged hunt for the man who generously came to his aid all those years ago – plastering up flyers, searching through registries, even broadcasting his compelling testimony to millions via Rwandan radio.
Throughout this affecting chronicle, Pannell and co-director Costa Botes capture an intimate, grassroots portrait of a nation’s resilience and compassion, observing the will of a people who’ve refused to be defined by the horrors of their tumultuous history. — JF