Wow. Children of War, directed by tonight’s guest Bryan Single, is jaw dropping stunning in both content and delivery. The story of children abducted and forced to join Ugandan rebel Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army, then rescued by government soldiers and brought to Rachele Rehabilitation Center is powerfully filmed in black and white over a three-year period.
Single and his crew had unprecedented access to process of healing these children, and focused on three in particular: Akulu, Nyero, and Polycap. Akula was kidnapped and given to rebel leader Abonga Papa as his wife. Polycap and Nyero gradually open up to their counselors and admit to having killed; they come to realize that their will was not their own.
In a powerful and disturbing scene, Polycap is aided by a method some may find difficult to stomach: A form of Pentecostal exorcism, which actually makes sense when seen against rebel warlord Kony’s bastardization of the Bible for his own ends; his lieutenants’ methods include making the sign of the cross on captured children and telling them this charm will make it impossible for them to escape–if they run they will be caught and killed.
Kony is especially insidious and evil leader. Jane, the head of Rachele Rehabilitation Center, explains that he targets children 5 to 15 years old as the most vulnerable and easiest to indoctrinate. Children are forced to kill other children and adults while the rebel leaders give orders. One of Kony’s former followers weeps silently when she tell of Kony’s original miracle workings and then how he returned and took their children. Abonga–who is is truly insane–claims that taking children was never part of the plan; it’s just that people lost faith in Kony, so he had to take children in order to have soldiers.
In one of the most powerful exercises, the children debate forgiveness: Should rebel leaders be forgiven? And if there is no forgiveness, would they, the children, still be alive?
Children of War highlights the the fate of the 35,000 children kidnapped by soldiers in Uganda–25,000 of whom who have been rescued–and the thousands of children who are forced to fight, kill and maim in fifty-three nations around the world. The film made its debut before the United Nations General Assembly, and will be shown for members of the European Union later this month.