This film truthfully depicts the children's story, giving them a voice and a face. Telling the story of the northern Ugandan war from from the perspective of children, allows the film to be emotionally charged, rather than simply factual. It gives us an image of how the children and their families manage to overcome their horrendous past while living in the horrifying present. To date, the war has raged for 18 years and created more than 200.000 casualties.
The Children who escaped from the hands of the rebels are simultaneously perpetrators and victims. However, in spite of this, they are heroes. It takes courage to dare to escape and face the families of the victims. Only few children actually survive the war in the bush, most of them die as cannon fodder for the Lord`s Resistance Army (LRA) or are shot as supposed rebels by the government troops.
The film begins with the arrival of the children in a refuge reception center after their escape from the bush camps of the LRA. One of three reception centers in north Uganda is run by the charity organisation Gulu in Pajule, 40 km away from the Sudanese boarder. The center is in the middle of the war zone and can only be reached with a jeep via a road that is very risky to drive through and only open for a few hours a day.
Over 30 children were interviewed, from this group we found the four children who are the focus of the film. The film was shot within ten weeks, divided up into three shooting phases : September 2003, January 2004 and May 2004. The team travelled incognito, with little equipment and with support of the Caritas in order not to become a target of the rebels or to become subject to the government's censorship. The filmmakers could have hardly won the trust of the children with the government troops behind them.
Around Pajule there is neither electricity, telephones, running water nor certainly no reliable security information. During the shooting three social workers of the Pajule Centre were attacked in their car by the rebels; one of them died.
In October 2003, two days after the departure of the film crew, Pajule and the reception center were attacked by the rebels. Almost 20 people died and over 240 were abducted.
In order not to attract too much attention, the film was shot on mini DV. The accumulators and powerbook were run by a small generator. The shooting lasted 120 hours in total. Every night we made a back up of the recorded material onto hard disc, to prevent the loss of the complete film in case of an attack by the rebels. The material was translated from the original language, Acholi, into English. The north Ugandan population, which amounts to about 1 million, only speaks Acholi.
When the film crew first came to Pajule, many people were dying in the refugee camp due to aids, syphilis, malaria and diarrhoea. There was no provision of medical care and medication was traded on the black market for horrendous sums of money. Thanks to the medication brought along by the film crew and their basic medical know how , they became temporary practitioners in the camp. However, a professional was desperately needed. 12,000 euros were collected through generous donations from the filmmaker's friends, acquaintances and family to pay for doctor and medication. Since January 2004, a doctor now works in Pajule. With the recognition that this film will create, we hope to bring more medical attention into this area.
See more information: www.pajule-aid.org