Bicycling is the centerpiece of the inspiring documentary “Rising from the Ashes,” a story set in Africa that’s making the rounds of the film festival circuit this fall.
It tells how genocide survivors from the Rwandan civil war are helped by an American cyclist to form the Rwanda national cycling team.
As you can imagine, the story is not all about the bike.
The cyclists were all children during the Rwandan genocide and many lost family members during those horrific times in the mid-1990s. They need help to be rid of the demons that still haunt them from that tragedy.
Helping them to recover is their cycling coach, Jonathan “Jock” Boyer, the first American to ride in the Tour de France in 1983. The decorated cyclist had come to the African nation to help the cycling team after serving a sentence for lewd behavior with a minor in the United States.
The producers, who include narrator Forest Whitaker, say many team members are still working to overcome problems. Some suffered malnutrition and received poor medical care when they were younger. But there are inspiring successes.
One of those is Adrien Niyonshuti, whose six brothers were killed during the genocide. He earned a spot to represent Rwanda in the Olympic cross-country mountain biking event in London last summer. [Adrien Nioynshuti profile in Sports Illustrated.]
The producers say the Team Rwanda’s next goal is to create an all-black, all-African team to compete at the Tour de France.