Films: Staging Hope: Acts of Peace in Northern Uganda

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Staging Hope: Acts of Peace in Northern Uganda

Staging Hope: Acts of Peace in Northern Uganda

USA, 2010, 98 Minute Running Time
Genre/Subjects: African-American, Coming of Age, Documentary, Teen, Womens Issues
Programs: Documentary Films, Women + Film
Language: English

DIRECTOR: Bill Yoelin
Producer: Katy Fox, Melissa Fitzgerald
Editor: Paul Freedman
Screenwriter: Paul Freedman
Cinematographer: Tony Hardmon, Jonathan Furmanski
Principal Cast: Melissa Fitzgerald

Forty years of violent war has ravaged northern Uganda, where abductions, murder, torture, and rape are routine and systematic. Here the Acholi people languish in teeming, overcrowded, disease-infested camps without means of livelihood, access to schools, or enough to eat. Having founded a successful drama workshop for at-risk youth in Los Angeles, actress-activist Melissa Fitzgerald (The West Wing) thought a similar program might be of some use and comfort to Acholi teens. So she and and a small group of American actors traveled to a Ugandan village to launch just that in Bill Yoelin’s moving documentary.

Opening scenes shot from the window of the van on the road to camp juxtapose the country’s beauty with its squalor. Likewise, though Fitzgerald’s disposition is sunny, she is hardly oblivious the horrors her 14 students have endured. As she gets right to work encouraging the teenagers to move, dance, sing, and tell their stories, they respond with exuberance. (It turns out “The Hokey Pokey” has nothing on Ugandan children’s songs.) Together with the American crew, Fitzgerald helps the budding performers create a play—all in two-and-a-half weeks. And the power of theater to connect human beings from different worlds is vividly revealed.
—JULIET SHERWOOD

Sponsored by Barbara Bridges, Caz Matthews, Gay and Lesbian Fund for Colorado

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