New to VOD this week: PRAY THE DEVIL BACK TO HELL
Gini Reticker’s look at the women-led peace movement in Liberia debuted at Tribeca in 2008, where it won the Best Documentary award. Screenings followed at IDFA, São Paulo, Silverdocs, Traverse City, Jackson Hole, Heartland, Palm Springs, St Louis, and One World. The doc was just released on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, and Vudu.
After a civil war which saw dictator Charles Taylor rise to power, LIberia became embroiled in a second civil war pitting warlords against the despot. In the middle, citizens suffered, with more than a million LIberians killed or displaced by the conflict. Reticker focuses on the unlikely but remarkably effective actions of a group of Christian women who grew a church prayer for peace into an activist movement that inspired a parallel Muslim conclave. With religion a factor in the civil war, between a supposedly devout Christian Taylor and predominantly Muslim rebels, the women’s unity across religious lines helped their cause for peace. Using whatever tactics they could come up with – including withholding sex and shaming men by threatening to strip naked in front of them – the activists forced participation in peace negotiations, and, ultimately, worked together to witness the election of the first female head of state in Africa, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. While no-frills in its approach, the film succeeds by virtue of its compelling subjects and their dogged determination for peace.