Directed by Alanna Brown, Netflix’s drama film ‘Trees of Peace’ centers around Annick, Mutesi, Jeanette, and Peyton, four women who hide in an underground storage room of Annick’s house in the wake of genocide. The film progresses through the bond they form while surviving with the minimal resources they get through Annick’s husband Francois. Set against the backdrop of one of the most heart-rending incidents that happened in the 20th century, the film succeeds in depicting the horrors of the same. If you are curious to know more about the setting of the period film, let us be your ally!
When and Where is Trees of Peace Set?
‘Trees of Peace’ takes place in Rwanda, a country located in the African continent, in 1994. The film begins in April 1994, depicting the aftermath of Hutu president Juvénal Habyarimana’s assassination. The assassination paved the way for the start of the Rwandan genocide. Annick, Mutesi, Jeanette, and Peyton begin their hiding in the underground storage room in April 1994 when the Hutu perpetrators start to kill Tutsis and Hutu moderates. In the film, Annick and Francois are Hutu moderates, a part of the Hutu ethnic group who were targeted by the perpetrators for not participating in the genocide.
The narrative of the film is entirely set in Annick’s house, specifically in the underground storage room she hides with Mutesi, Jeanette, and Peyton. From April 1994 till the end of the genocide, an estimated 100,000-250,000 women were raped in Rwanda, in addition to murders of the hundreds of thousands. The tragic fate of Akimana, who gets raped and killed by Hutu perpetrators in the film, is a representation of the fates of possibly a quarter-million Rwandan women.
Hôtel des Mille Collines, the refugee camp Francois mentions to his wife, is located in Kigali, the capital and largest city of Rwanda. The hotel became a shelter for about 2,000 people during the genocide. Annick, Mutesi, Jeanette, and Peyton come out of the storage room when the genocide ends with the fleeing of the Hutu forces in July 1994. Rwandan Patriotic Front became victorious in their battle against the Rwandan government forces on July 4, 1994, in Kigali. When the four women come out of the storage room, Francois welcomes them with the soldiers to help them.
Since Annick, Mutesi, Jeanette, and Peyton hide in the storage room for around 81 days, the film concludes around the second half of July 1994. According to United Nations, more than one million people were killed during the Rwandan genocide. Annick and others try their best to not become four among the lakhs of people who die around them.
Even though the film tells chiefly the tale of four Rwandan women, director Alanna Brown had expressed that her creation has a universal appeal. Still, the setting of the Rwandan genocide is an extremely pivotal part of the universally appealing narrative. “The script was written to reflect the true events of the Rwandan genocide—and to reflect the collective spirit within all of us. Whether we’ve seen death or not, live in Rwanda or otherwise, many of the hopes, fears, losses, and triumphs in this story are universal,” Brown wrote on the Kickstarter page she created for the film.
Although the film is set in Rwanda, ‘Trees of Peace’ was filmed in its entirety in North Hollywood, a neighborhood of Los Angeles in the San Fernando Valley, California.
Read More: Is Trees of Peace Based on a True Story?