The Harvest - The ghosts of Rwanda


05 April 2019

"The ghosts of Rwanda" offers the rare and personal testimony of Philippe Gaillard, head of the ICRC delegation in Kigali, during the genocide in Rwanda.

This movie is not about the genocide in Rwanda, although its main protagonist, Philippe Gaillard, head of the ICRC delegation in Kigali, was one of the important and few foreigners who witnessed it.

In 1994, the head of the International Committee of the Red Cross' delegation in Kigali decided to stay in the country, with a handful of expatriates, among which a few MSF employees, "to not abandon our 120 Rwandan colleagues, both Hutus and Tutsis". All other foreign institutions and organisations were then leaving Rwanda.

"A drop of Humanity in an ocean of horror" - this is how Philippe Gaillard describes ICRC's action during the genocide. "A drop of humanity", as around 80 000 people were saved. Extracts of Arthur Rimbaud's "A Season in Hell" were read out loud each day in the delegation.

Philippe Gaillard left the ICRC in 2007. In his native Valais, he started working a new passion, related to "the production of life": vineyards. This film, "The Harvest", tells a humble and rare tale. A nightmare whispered behind a row of vines, in one long and improvised sequence-shot.

Maria-Teresa, his wife and former colleague, and their children Isabelle and Benjamin, both born after Rwanda, are interviewed in the film. As are two friends, Didier the winemaker and former ICRC colleague Edmond. Didier is, as Philippe, deeply rooted in his native Valais lands. Edmond was key in convincing Philippe to share part of his Rwandan experience. Philippe refused to speak about Rwanda publicly since his last conference in 2004, at ICRC head-quarters, for the genocide's 10th anniversary. Yet, from April to July 1994, he was the unique voice of the victims for worldwide media, each day denouncing the horror of this genocide behind closed doors.
"The Harvest - The ghosts of Rwanda" is a film on humanitarian commitment and invisible wounds.

Original version in French: April 5, 2019
Frédéric Joli, CICR Paris, tél: (+33) 6 20 49 46 30,