"Soldier Boys" Joseph Kony & the Lord's Resistance Army
"Soldier Boys" was made in 2000 for CTV (Canada), Vision TV (Canada), Granada International and The Canadian International Development Agency and the Soros Foundation(now Sundance). "Soldier Boys" shows the stories of young Acholi escapees from the hell of the Lord's Resistance Army (L.R.A.) in Northern Uganda. These youngsters told us how they were abducted from their families and forced to kill, maim, and terrorize their families and fellow villagers. With these acts of violence, the escapees are outcasts from their village, clan and tribe. We were pressured from all sides not to show how the Acholi spiritual traditions and belief system kept them bound to their captor Joseph Kony, leader of the LRA, and how those same traditions and belief system ultimately led to forgiveness for the escapees.
Indeed, the film's heart is its detailed depiction of an Acholi rite of forgiveness performed by the 'Rwot' - roughly meaning "king" - of the Acholi nation. This rite had not been performed since the 19th century. In performing it, the Rwot was opening himself to assassination by the L.R.A., whose hold over the escapees was thereby broken. In another crucial series of scenes, a young Acholi escapee, Walter Ocan, gravely ill with cancer, leaves the hospital and the Christian relief agency which was providing for him, to have a chicken and goat sacrificed in aid of his healing by an Acholi traditional healer.We were aware when we shot the forgiveness ceremony that we were in play as minor actors in the newly-crowned Rwot's efforts to win back from the other political forces in Acholiland some of his lost political prestige. We were also aware that our African 'fixer' was skimming some of the 'fees' we were asked to pay for the privilege of being allowed to shoot the sacrifice ritual for Walter Ocan and other ceremonies.
We were aware that the Ugandan government also had us in play, particularly when they allowed us an interview with President Youweiri Museveni.
We were aware that the various, mainly Christian, NGOs in Acholiland were trying to prevent the escapees in their care from attending the Rwot's cleansing ceremony.
But being aware of these things did not mean that we could do much at all about them. What we could do was try to show the escapees doing what they genuinely wanted to do, and saying what they genuinely wanted to say. We're filmmakers, not politicians, not soldiers, not diplomats. We did what we could, as I expect the other filmmakers who have done work about the L.R.A. have done. Unless YOU'VE worked in Uganda, don't judge them.
Produced by Christa Schadt and David Hallam
Directed by Christa Schadt
Edited by Reid Dennison