Published Apr 30, 2010Over the past 20 years, over 30,000 Ugandan girls have been kidnapped from their homes and forced to kill by rebel militants. These soldiers have found the way to develop the perfect killing machines. First, take a seven-year-old girl from her home; kill her parents in front of her (or better yet, force her to do the killing); give her a weapon and tell her it is now "her life," all while thoroughly beating and raping her. With dehumanization this literal, how does one rediscover their humanity (and in this case, femininity)?
Co-presented with WarChild Canada, Grace, Milly, Lucy... Child Soldiers poses these questions with no easy answers, other than the perseverance of the human spirit. For the few girls that do manage to escape, the pain doesn't end there. Frequently, the women are shunned by their communities, due to the atrocities they were forced to commit, and the children of rape they were forced to give birth to. The three women focused on in the film react in different ways to the trauma. In particular, the activism of Grace Akalla eventually leads her to living in the United States and speaking to the United Nations on creating awareness of these heinous crimes against humanity.
What binds the women after their experience is the will to create as much positivity from this misery as possible. Provencher's imagery is arresting when letting the country speak for itself. The girls' graphic stories are told overtop gorgeous jungle landscape that becomes increasingly horrifying as the tales of slavery and mass murder unfold.
While these stories are unremittingly bleak, the message is still one of hope. By using the documentary medium to educate audiences on the full spectrum of their suffering, the victims start to reclaim their power. (NFB)