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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

War Dance

Heidi brought back an award-winning documentary film called War Dance, and we had the opportunity to watch it last night. We highly recommend it on many levels. Artistically the cinematography, color, pacing, framing, all are superb. But the real power of the film lies in the ability of the crew to make the atrocity of the Lord's Resistance Army's war upon the Acholi people of Northern Uganda palpable, while still holding out hope in their beauty and resilience. The documentary focuses on the lives of three children going to primary school in an IDP camp, and one by one they tell of their experiences of war, some quite horrific (this is not for younger kids, there is intensity in the dialogue that made Jack and Julia cling to my hands, too close to home . . . so for even younger kids it would be too much). But all of this is set in the context of the annual Ugandan primary school music competition, where schools compete all over the country and are then selected for finals. We have often watched the preliminary stage here in Bundibugyo, but never been very clear on what happens to the winners. In the movie we watched the chosen school rehearse and prepare, then followed them through the contest. In this way the stark realities of their lives are balanced by the laughter and music of their culture, and in spite of sorrow they find strength in the experience of success. Like CSB football, the music competition becomes one of their islands of competence, a life-raft of success that keeps them afloat in the chaos created by the rebels.

This movie makes my top 5 on Africa, for sure, and I think anyone who watches it should be moved to come and nurture and encourage kids in the arts, sports, drama, whatever activity that could serve a similar role in their lives. Today we faced the post-Easter morass of patients, our two houseworkers went on strike because we burned in our trash pit some old junk that they considered their right to take home, our schedule was a topsy-turvy mess with exams at CSB, a second team kid came down with chicken pox and another team adult got very sick overnight, word come of the disgruntled distress of some other workers who resent the new taxes being required through us by the government . . in other words, it was a typical day of struggle. So in the midst of our war on poverty, on darkness, on destruction and deception . . . let us remember the dance, the brightness of a child who is praised, the pride of a group who is given the opportunity to succeed.

It's a movie that helps me to not give up. And that's saying a lot.


mhb said...

I'm curious as to what the other movies in the top 5 are. You all are still in my prayers. Love, meredith.

wendyallison said...

Yes Jennifer, if you would, post a list

praying daily,


Mary Gerber said...

That is a truly fantastic movie and I highly recommend it as well. I felt like I was on an emotional roller coaster when I watched it.

I have one more to watch- "God Grew Tired Of Us" Its about the Lost Boys of Sudan and their journey to the U.S. Its very eye opening and I think Americans especially should watch it, because it really opens your eyes to the struggles of settling into a "new life" in this country.

DrsMyhre said...

Our Africa Top 5 DVDs
1. Beyond the Gates (aka Shooting Dogs in the UK)
2. Blood Diamond
3. Nowhere in Africa
4. War Dance
5. Tsotsi

(Haven't seen the God grew tired of us, yet).