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Alison MacAulay

The John Bullen Prize


Alison MacAulay, “Filming History: Visual Representations of Rwanda, 1916-2014”

Alison MacAulay’s dissertation is a strikingly original exploration of the representation of Rwanda on film over the past century from the colonial to post-genocide periods (1916-2014). Through the lens of film and the film-making industry, MacAulay provides a fascinating window into a complicated history, attentive to the multiplicity of perspectives embedded in the creation of these films from both inside and outside of Rwanda. At the same time, MacAulay looks at the reception of such films within Rwanda and considers the screening spaces and spectators who viewed them and the messages they conveyed.

This dissertation combines History, Film Studies, and Genocide Studies, using theoretical and methodological frameworks from all three to place images of the Rwandan genocide in the context of film and moving pictures in the history of Rwanda more broadly. It draws on textual archival sources, films produced both within and outside of Rwanda, and oral histories with those connected to the Rwandan film industry to provide a richly textured and deep exploration of how film can produce historical knowledge in complex and meaningful ways. For these reasons, Dr. MacAulay’s dissertation is most deserving of the 2023 John Bullen Prize for the Best Dissertation in Canada.