Fambul Tok (2011) — Sierra Leone
From 1991 to 2002 a brutal civil war ravaged the west African country of Sierra Leone. The war killed 50,000 people and displaced two million more (out of a population of six million). The war devastated the country's infrastructure, destroyed the economy, and traumatized ordinary citizens with rape, torture, mutilation, and rebel terror. As in many other countries, various NGOs, truth and reconciliation commissions, and special international courts tried to redress the aftermath of national trauma, but with limited results. John Caulker had a better idea. He appealed to the Sierra Leonean tradition of "Fambul Tok," or "family talk," in which villagers gather around huge bon fires to discuss community concerns. This documentary film shows how their grass roots organization, unaffiliated with the government, facilitated these healing events in over 50 villages. It is a film about the very public confession of guilt by the perpetrators and the act of forgiveness by victims. Both victims and perpetrators acknowledged the truth of a village proverb: "there's no bad bush to send away a bad child." This is a deeply powerful and disturbing film; it contains extensive and graphic first person descriptions of the worst sorts of crimes against humanity and war crimes. I watched Fambul Tok on Netflix streaming.