The Paw Print
The film, “Pushing the Elephant” opened at the Carson Auditorium on March 1 at 6:30 p.m.
The film was a shortened version of a full length documentary that is scheduled to air on the PBS series Independent Lense later on in March.
“Pushing the Elephant” is an emotional, heartfelt story of Rose Mapendo, a Congolese woman who experienced tremendous hardship during the Congolese civil war that occurred during 1996. The war devastated the region, and Rose’s story is a perfect microcosm for summing up the tremendous amount of upheaval and chaos that has affected the region.
In the film, Rose is currently residing in Phoenix, Arizona with her 10 children of various ages. Rose was separated from one of her children upon leaving the National Republic of the Congo, her then five-year-old daughter, Nangabire. Nangabire was left with her father’s grandparents to remain in Africa. Rose’s husband had been killed by the soldiers who had over-run their village. Many hundreds of people died in the conflict.
Rose eventually escaped from the violence to arrive in America with her children. Though the film highlights very tragic events, the overall story of Rose’s incredible determination to survive and save not only herself but also her children is truly remarkable.
Following her arrival in the United States, Rose became an advocate for women’s’ rights, as well as, highlighting the need to give aid to refugees. She is explicit in describing the effects of war on women and people in general.
The film highlighted Rose traveling to different parts of the United States to give talks and informing people of the atrocities of war and the real need to help those affected by wars.
During the movie, Rose is reunited with the daughter that she was forced to leave behind. It is a heartwarming scene as they greet each other in the airport for the first time. In a parallel story, Rose’s daughter Nangabire tries to assimilate to American culture. She does not know English and is almost immediately enrolled in school. Her struggles assimilating to a different culture paints a vivid picture of the difficulties that confront immigrants to this country every day. In addition to a difficult transition between cultures, Nangabire continues to struggle with her painful past in Africa.
Throughout the film Rose preaches patience and forgiveness. She speaks on how she eventually found herself having to forgive her captors. She explained that holding onto the bad feelings she felt towards them was, in a sense, weighing her down like a stone. Rose continued to emphasize the necessity of forgiveness not only to her audiences but also for her children as well.
Following the film, a discussion was held amongst audience members discussing the hardships and violence that women face both on the international scale and the local scale as well. Empathy was strongly felt for Rose and others who have had to endure such a heart-wrenching experience.
The film was presented by ITVS Community Cinema, ScSEED, and Ute Theatre Community Partners and sponsored by the Adams State Grizzly Activity Board.