Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars 

Filmmaker’s Award for Social Change and Emerging Pictures Audience Award, 2006; Center for Documentary Studies Filmmaker Award, 2006

The plight of the refugee in today’s war-torn world is captured in the African proverb, “When two elephants are fighting, the grass will suffer.” So it was in Sierra Leone from 1991-2002, where the government and various rebel factions carried out a brutal civil war in which the terrorizing of civilians by killing, mutilation, rape, and forced conscription was common practice on all sides. The war sent hundreds of thousands of ordinary Sierra Leoneans fleeing to refugee camps in the neighboring West African nation of the Republic of Guinea. That’s where the remarkable documentary Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars begins.

Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars came together to form a band while living in a refugee camp in Guinea. Many of their family and friends were murdered in the war, leaving each of them with physical and emotional scars that may never heal. Despite the unimaginable horrors of civil war, they were saved and brought hope and happiness to their fellow refugees through their music.

The Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars film chronicles the band over three years, from Guinean refugee camps back to war-ravaged Sierra Leone, where they realize the dream of recording their first studio album. And so begins a musical phenomenon that is making the world hear the voices of West Africa’s refugees.  Through their unflinching spirit, their powerful stories of survival and their joyful music Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars celebrate the best that is in all of us. As violent conflicts multiply around the globe and the worldwide refugee crisis deepens, Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars is a humanizing ode to all the innocent survivors of war whose brutal realities are often dismissed by surface mass media sound bytes.

 

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