Saturday, May 3, 2008


Filmaker Gini Reticker's Pray the Devil Back to Hell took top honors this week for Best Documentary Feature at this year's Tribeca Film Festival. Produced by philanthropist Abigail Disney, the documentary tells the story of how Christian and Muslim women in Liberia—despite religious and ethnic differences—united in 2003 to bring an end to their nation's bloody civil war.

According to Disney, it took her and Reticker 18 months to make the film: few international media networks saved footage of the peace effort, while others failed to film it as it evolved, believing it not to be important.

In a recent interview with Contribute Media Online, Disney said that during a trip to Liberia, she learned of the movement, then realized the unusual alliance was in the process of being forgotten. "The story about the Liberian women peacemakers was in the air—but in little pieces, like shards of a broken thing you want to put back together—only this story was missing some pieces," Disney said.

"I know from women’s history and women’s literature through the centuries that women do things and then we forget them—and then the next time a group of women attempts to do something similar, everybody thinks that women are doing it for the very first time," Disney added. "It seemed to me that here I was a witness to the erasure of a historical moment and I had the capacity to prevent that from happening."

To see an excerpt of that film, plus Contribute Media Online's full interview with Abigail Disney, click HERE.

Other highlights of this year's festival included a new screening of the The Devil Came by Horseback, film-maker Annie Sundberg's award-winning 2007 documentary about former U.S. Marine Capt. Brian Stiedle's experiences as an unarmed observer for the African Union in Darfur in 2004. "Brian provided the eyes through which to tell Americans about the genocide in Darfur," Sundberg told CauseGlobal. "With this film, I was seeking the story behind the headlines."

Both Sundberg's and Disney's films are stories about dislocated African cultures and the struggle for peace—in one case, successful, and in the case of Darfur, still blatantly unresolved.

Here's the trailer from The Devil Came on Horseback:

What do you think?

(photo by Dan Demetriad)

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