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War Don Don (2010)

7.5
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In the heart of Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone, United Nations soldiers guard a heavily fortified building known as the 'special court'. Inside, Issa Sesay awaits is trial. ... See full summary »

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In the heart of Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone, United Nations soldiers guard a heavily fortified building known as the 'special court'. Inside, Issa Sesay awaits is trial. Prosecutors argue that Sesay is a war criminal, guilty of crimes against humanity. His defenders insist that he is a reluctant fighter who protected civilians and played a crucial role in forging the peace. 'War Don Don' tells the story of his sensational trial with unprecedented access to prosecutors, defense attorneys, victims, and from behind bars, Sesay himself. Can the trial of one man uncover the truth of a traumatic past? Written by Human Rights Watch Film Festival

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War Don Don chronicles the rise and fall of a former rebel leader in Sierra Leone. Through his trial, a nation faces its wartime past.

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15 July 2014 (Netherlands)  »

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Excellent Film on Dealing with the Aftermath of War
20 March 2010 | by (Austin, TX, United States) – See all my reviews

War Don Don screened this week at SXSW Film Festival in Austin, TX, where it was well well-received and won an award. War Don Don is an excellent examination of how a country that has gone through a horrifying Civil War attempts to reconcile with its past by putting the perpetrators on trial. In this case, the film focuses on the trial Issa Sesay, a one-time battlefield leader of Revolutionary United Front (RUF), before the Special Court of Sierra Leone for crimes against humanity and other horrendous war crimes – rape, murder, amputation, and the use of child soldiers among others. The documentary presents a reasonably fair examination of the trial through interviews with both Sesay's supporters and critics without really taking sides.

The film raises profound questions about what should be considered a crime in the context of war and who should be held responsible for the acts of barbarity that occur during most wars. Sierra Leone's approach seems to be moving the country forward although one is left to consider other alternatives; for example, South Africa adopted the less punitive approach of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The film also implicitly raises questions about the role of foreign nationals in the judicial process and the financial cost of such an expensive process for a desperately poor country. The combination of well-edited interviews and footage of the aftereffects of war is quit powerful and evocative. Some of the most powerful shots are those of amputees playing soccer that seem to symbolize the struggle of a wounded country to keep on struggling to rebuild. This powerful film could serve as useful educational tool and I hope that many more people have the opportunity to view it.


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