Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Uganda Rising - Tokyo 7.24.07

Before the screening began, a professor from Waseda University came and had a short, 5-min conversation with the audience.

"If possible, I'd like to ask 2 things from you."

"One, of course, is your generous donations to the UNHCR." The audience gave a little chuckle.

"The other, is that I know that many of you - including myself - spend a lot of time keeping some kind of blog or webpage or online network running. I'd sincerely ask you to go home to blog and write not only about this film festival but, most importantly, about the people portrayed in these films as their situations require our immediate attention and help. Keep talking and telling people about it. At times, that is the least we can do."

"Uganda Rising." Among all that I've seen so far in the refugee film festival, this one shies the least away from presenting the physically brutal, gruesome, and mentally disturbing and shocking images of war. At the beginning of the film, pictures of decomposed bodies of young babies shuffled into a mass grave, the head of a man chopped open and brain tissues/membranes spreading all over the ground, and deformed men/women faces beaten bloodily to death are shown as the narrator tells the historical background that led to the on-going civil conflict in Northern Uganda. In the middle of the film, a facially deformed lady shares about the degree of torture that she had gone through when captured by the LRA (Lord's Resistance Army) personnel.

"Please don't hurt me or my family members. Can't you see that you too are a brother to me, and we belong to the same family?" She said to the LRA leader that day, pleading for mercy.

But it was those exact words that triggered their anger. They cut off both of her ears and sliced off her lips. She bled and bled until all consciousness was lost.

Minutes after, a young teenage woman shares about how she was abducted by the LRA and forced to become one of the many wives of the LRA leader, Joseph Kony. As she speaks, her baby - one of the 500 kids of Kony - sits a little restlessly at her lap. Perhaps it was the blazing sun that day that made her eyes half shut, or perhaps it was the pain of retelling the cruelty gone through that made it hard for her to look straight into the camera. That intense, deep frown, however, never left her face.

This is, certainly, not just a film of mere accusation. History is clearly explained, and the rise and fall of different conflicts at different points in time are also carefully documented. Pictures of reality are presented, statistics drawn, and solutions considered by the government and other peace-making forces given. However, the main dilemma remains: while amnesty has been granted to those who are willing to leave the LRA forces and return to their community as a way of ending the on-going conflict and achieving immediate peace, how could justice be achieved and restored in the minds of those who have suffered stays opaque.

"It is just heart-breaking for the victims to continue to suffer from the experience of atrocities while seeing the ex-LRA members sitting there living off government stipends," says Betty Bigome, the chief peace negotiator b/t the Uganda government and the LRA>

In the urgent need for peace, where does justice lie?

As for now, the Ugandan government still refuses to grant Joseph Kony amnesty; the international court of justice has also formally indicted him for crimes against humanity. But the children, in fear of abduction from the LRA, who would spend one or two hours each night walking to the neighboring town for a safer sleeping ground, continue to walk.

"And we will continue to walk until the war is over," a teenage child, who dreams to become a lawyer one day in order to re-set justice over the past two decades of conflict and atrocities, speaks.

For more information: www.ugandarising.com

梅ちゃん at 11:49:00 PM



Post a Comment