Two worlds collide when cycling legend Jock Boyer moves to Rwanda to help the first Rwandan National Cycling Team in their six year journey to compete in the Olympic Games in London. Setting out against impossible odds both Jock and the team find new purpose as they rise from the ashes of their past.
Executive produced and narrated by Forest Whitaker, this stunningly shot film follows Jock (the first American to compete in the Tour de France) and his Rwandan riders as they slowly but steadily learn what it means to be a professional cyclist – how to train, how to compete, how to live the life of a top level athlete. As they get better and better, the riders of Team Rwanda give their countrymen a vision of something greater than themselves and their history: hope for a future.
“A remarkable documentary. ‘Rising from Ashes‘ is not just about a cycling team; it’s a testament to what happens when human beings care for one another. Director T.C. Johnstone puts six years of work on this film to good use. The work has as little fat as his stars, yet his footage is rich, and his story is layered. He unspools details and developments with a patience that never tries ours. Johnstone has confidence in all elements of filmmaking — images, interviews, narration (by actor and co-producer Forest Whitaker, used sparingly), sound, and a fantastic soundtrack — and uses each to vivid and captivating effect.” –Daphne Howland, The Village Voice
“Uplifting… moving. Narrated in unobtrusive fashion by Forest Whitaker and featuring a jaunty Afropop soundtrack, the film is crisp and economical, with the filmmaker carefully avoiding extraneous melodramatics. They are, after all, hardly necessary in a tale that already contains such inherently powerful drama.” –Frank Schneck, The Hollywood Reporter
“The wildly improbable story of the Rwandan National Cycling Team, a.k.a. Team Rwanda, delivers! Layers of suffering and joy mingle in ‘Rising From Ashes‘, which gives you more than you expect – it turns out there are dramas going on that you wouldn’t initially suspect. One pleasure of the film is experiencing the wonderful good spirits of the riders as they find their way in the strange new world of competitive cycling. Director T.C. Johnston knew a good story when he saw one, and we can all be grateful for that.” –Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times