Release Date: December 8th, 2006 (Cinema Village) by Cinema Libre Studio.
Directed by Philippe Diaz.
In English, French and Local Dialects with subtitles.
BASIC PREMISE: A documentary about the civil war in Sierra Leone caused by the corrupt occidental government ruling Sierra Leone.
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: The Empire in Africa bravely documents the violence, civil unrest and extreme poverty in Sierra Leone and, most importantly, traces its causes. The main characters in the civil war include the local rebels who formed the RUF (Revolutionary United Front) and the peacekeeping government forces financed by the United Nations. To call these forces “peacekeeping” is an oxymoron given how often they tortured and killed thousandsof innocent people in Sierra Leone. Meanwhile, the media mainly focused its attention on the rebels who fought back and also killed people. Through compelling interviews, director Philippe Diaz blames the international community which only fueled these atrocities—donating food and water did not help stop the violence. Diaz also includes some startling, powerful images showing severely malnourished children and adults with severed hands and even entire arms. He wisely interviews UN officials to hear their side of the story. In the second half of the film, explicitly gruesome yet utterly necessary footage of “peacekeepers” torturing victims makes you feel quite angry against the corrupt government which was supposed to keep the peace with Sierra Leone, but clearly failed to do so.
SPIRITUAL VALUE: It’s both frustrating and tragic that government officials in a third world country could be so brutally and corrupt even with the assistance of the United Nations. The media made the rebels seem like the main culprits during the civil war when, in reality, the incompetent “peacekeeping”, unlawful government officials were the actual root of the problem. In many ways, this documentary stresses the importance of not always taking the media’s coverage for granted and, instead, striving for truthful investigative journalism.
INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: None.
NUMBER OF TIMES I CHECKED MY WATCH: 0
IN A NUTSHELL: Powerful, compelling and alarming. An important example of honest investigative journalism at its peak.
RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Movie Theater (1st Run)
The "E" Menu