Bicycles can provide both freedom and second chances: kids pedaling away from home in their first burst of independence; former professional cyclist Bob Roll riding two wheels out of a toxic city lifestyle; and Rwandans using bikes as vehicles to escape genocide.
Rising from Ashes (watch the trailer) follows five cyclists who were just children (ages five to 12 years old) during the 1994 Rwandan genocide, during which more than one million people were murdered in 100 days. Each of the children in the film fled to refugee camps, but none of their families were spared—they lost fathers, brothers, and extended family. Mountain bike veteran Tom Ritchie called on an embattled American professional cyclist, Jonathan “Jock” Boyer, to put together and coach a Rwandan team. Boyer, the first American to ride in the Tour de France, was leery and unaware of the possibilities both for the cyclists and himself. Team Rwanda, which had long been using 25-year-old bicycles and equipment to climb the dirt road hills of their homeland, upgraded their bikes to fit the willpower and passion they already possessed.
This inspirational documentary captures Team Rwanda—led by 2012 Olympian Adrien Niyonshuti, who lost 60 family members in the genocide—as its members use their painful pasts to fuel an improbable breakthrough into professional cycling.
See it: Watch Rising from Ashes on Saturday, November 3 at 4:30 p.m. at the L2 Arts and Culture Center and Sunday, November 4 at 2:45 p.m. at Denver Pavilions.
Follow editorial assistant Lindsey R. McKissick on Twitter at @LindseyRMcK.