Told through the experiences of an American mother who operates an orphanage in postwar Sierra Leone, this documentary film sheds light on how a government rife with corruption allows its most vulnerable citizens — orphaned children — to be used as pawns by crooked officials, illegal adoption agencies, and human traffickers. Since 2004, Erica Stone-Rust has adopted five children from Sierra Leone, and the process opened her eyes to how orphans are routinely neglected, abused and, in some extreme cases, allowed to die by a system that has utterly failed to protect them.
This film follows Erica and her husband Jason as they navigate a labyrinth of corrupt cops, spineless “child advocates” and tribal traditions that combine to threaten the very lives of the children they seek to help. Hanging in the balance is the orphanage itself — in many cases, the only home its orphans have ever known — as Erica’s enemies in the Sierra Leone government routinely harass her with charges of human trafficking and child harvesting. Finally, the film will also reveal the reason Erica is so determined to fight for Sierra Leone’s most helpless citizens: the death of one of her own adopted daughters at the hands of a negligent orphanage. Hounded by the police and targeted by serious accusations of international crimes that could threaten both her freedom and the future of the orphanage, it’s her daughter’s memory, and Erica’s promise that her death would not be in vain, that motivate her to take on challenges that can seem insurmountable.
The film is directed by Greg Campbell, author of the nonfiction book Blood Diamonds, which investigated the trafficking of conflict diamonds from Sierra Leone and how the trade led to its bloody civil war in the 1990s; that book inspired the 2006 Oscar-nominated Leonardo DiCaprio film BLOOD DIAMOND. Campbell is also the director of HONDROS, winner of the coveted Audience Award at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival. Campbell received a Special Jury Mention during the festival’s Best New Documentary Director competition.
WHAT WE NEED FROM YOU
Your contribution is critical to getting this project finished. We have raised an initial $50,000 in private donations that have allowed us to begin production on location in Freetown, Sierra Leone, and to develop a short fundraising trailer. The balance of funds will finance future trips to Sierra Leone and to Erica and Jason’s home to continue filming. Donations will also be used to fully fund postproduction, including editing, coloring and sound mixing. Our budget also includes festival expenses so that Erica’s story — and those of the orphans she fights for — can get wide exposure and attract broadcast, cable and/or online distribution as a documentary.