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Pushing The Elephant is made possible by generous funding from:

Chicken & Egg Pictures, Cinereach, The William H. Donner Foundation, Educational Foundation of America, Experimental Television Center, ITVS Research & Development Fund, Jerome Foundation, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, The Josh Mailman Foundation, NEA, NYFA, NYSCA, Still Point Fund, Sundance Documentary Fund, Tides Foundation and other generous supporters.

Donate Here!

Donation Amount: $

  • Press
  • Credits
  • Screenings

Colorado Springs, CO
November 5 @ 8:30 AM
more info HERE


Edinburgh, Scotland
June 14 @ 6:00PM
Click HERE for more info

London, England
June 19 @ 4:20PM
More Info HERE!


Glasgow, Scotland
June 23 @ 6:00PM
Click HERE for more info


Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
June 23-26
Click here for more info


Durban, South Africa
July 25 @ 5pm


Durban, South Africa
July 30 @ 11pm


In the late 1990s, Rose Mapendo lost her family and home to the violence that engulfed the Democratic Republic of Congo. She emerged advocating forgiveness and reconciliation. In a country where ethnic violence has created seemingly irreparable rifts among Tutsis, Hutus and other Congolese, this remarkable woman is a vital voice in her beleaguered nation’s search for peace. Now, Rose is confronted with teaching one of her most recalcitrant students how to forgive—Nangabire, the daughter who remained behind.

When war came to Rose’s village, she was separated from her five-year-old daughter, Nangabire. Rose managed to escape with nine of her ten children and was eventually resettled in Phoenix, Arizona. Over a decade later, mother and daughter are reunited in the US where they must face the past and build a new future.

We follow Rose and Nangabire over the course of a year as they make up for lost time. Rose struggles to find balance in her life as a mother of ten and a full-time advocate for refugees and peace.  Her work takes her around the world from speaking at the White House to addressing the UNHCR in Geneva to convening a grassroots meeting of refugees in Burundi.

Meanwhile Nangabire, now seventeen, must adapt to America and discover how she fits into the sprawling Mapendo family. As mother and daughter get to know one another, they must come to terms with a painful past, and define what it means to be a survivor, a woman, a refugee and an American.

This intimate family portrait unfolding against the wider drama of war tackles the long-term and often hidden effects of conflict on women and families, particularly those in traditional societies—financial despair, susceptibility to rape, and social ostracism. Pushing The Elephant captures one of the most important stories of our age, a time when genocidal violence is challenged by the moral fortitude and grace of one woman’s mission for peace.


PUSHING THE ELEPHANT was selected for the Addis International Film Festival in Ethiopia and the Durban International Film Festival in South Africa this week!!!

Pushing the Elephant was awarded Best Documentary Feature at the Women’s International Film & Arts Festival in Miami!  Rose attended and spoke at the awards ceremony.

Our Community Classroom lesson plans are up!  An excellent resource for educators to use the film in their classrooms HERE

How exciting!  Our broadcast premiere on Independent Lens March 29, 2011.

Pushing the Elephant screened at the United Nations’ Commission on the Status of Women, hosted by the Hungarian Mission to the UN and UN Women. 

In celebration of International Women’s Day, Elizabeth Mandel presented the film at Columbia Law School, and Beth presented it at Denver Voices Women’s Film Festival.

Independent Lens launched our broadcast site!  Great interactive timeline on the history of conflict in Congo.

In February, Beth and Elizabeth were invited to present the film and speak at Yale University’s 17th Annual Rebellious Lawyering Conference.

Rose opened the Northwestern University Conference on Human Rights and presented Pushing the Elephant .

We were nominated for a Cinema for Peace Award!

Our UK Premiere:  Human Rights Watch Film Festival London invited Beth, Elizabeth and Rose to present the film and host a Q&A in late March.

Pushing the Elephant was selected for the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA)!  Among all IDFA entries, it was one of only three films invited to be featured in a special screening at the festival focused on violence and poverty in developing communities.  Co-presented by Oxfam. 

We pushed the elephant to D.C.!  Rose Mapendo and filmmakers Beth Davenport and Elizabeth Mandel took Pushing the Elephant to lawmakers on Capitol Hill to advocate for International Violence Against Women Act (I-VAWA).

Pushing the Elephant screened at the World Bank, and Rose, Beth and Elizabeth spoke on a panel to World Bank decision-makers about the importance of grassroots women’s leadership in fragile states.

Pushing the Elephant premiered at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival in 2010. We were delighted that Rose, Nangabire, and Rose’s eldest son John joined us.

Pushing The Elephant was selected to be part of Good Pitch during Independent Film Week in 2009. This social-justice pitch forum was created by Channel 4 BRITDOC Foundation and the Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program. 

Rose was honored with the Humanitarian of the Year Award in 2009 by the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees. The audience included Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and refugee activist and actress Angelina Jolie.

Rose’s eldest daughter, Aimee, gave birth to a baby boy in 2009 and another baby boy this past fall.  Congratulations!

In 2009, Rose’s brother Fredrick and his wife and baby were granted visas to join Rose and her family in the United States. .

Pushing The Elephant was one of only three films from the United States invited to participate in the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam Pitch Forum in November 2008. This prestigious event brings together directors, producers, buyers financiers and audiences.

In 2008, Rose became the first refugee to address the Annual Tripartite Consultations on Resettlement of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Geneva. 

In 2008, the White House invited Rose Mapendo to speak in commemoration of World Refugee Day.

Rose was invited to represent her tribe in the Goma Peace Talks in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2008. She was one of only a handful of women invited to the talks. is neither affiliated with the authors of this page nor responsible for its contents. This is a safe-cache copy of the original web site.