Black People : Documentary: Brutal Liberrian warlord becomes Christian preacher

Discussion in 'Black People Open Forum' started by Istari, Jan 30, 2011.

  1. Istari

    Istari Well-Known Member MEMBER

    Sep 17, 2010
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    Documentary: Brutal Liberrian warlord becomes Christian preacher
    Posted by: Horace Coleman
    Sat Jan 29, 2011 10:08 am (PST),0,5464635.story

    Sundance Film Festival: 'The Redemption of General Butt Naked'

    The documentary follows a brutal Liberian warlord who becomes a
    Christian preacher and asks forgiveness for his crimes.

    By Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times Film Critic

    January 22, 2011

    Reporting from Park City, Utah — If character truly is destiny, what
    does that say about the mind-warping trajectory of the charismatic
    evangelical Christian preacher Joshua Milton Blahyi, once known as
    General Butt Naked?

    That name may sound silly, but it's not a joke to those who survived
    Liberia's 14-year civil war — or the tens of thousands who didn't.

    A stark naked warlord in that struggle, a man who has admitted to
    killing thousands of people and doing unspeakable things during the
    1989-2003 conflict, Blahyi is still so well-known in the country that,
    says filmmaker Daniele Anastasion, "when he walks through the airport
    in Monrovia you can hear it around you, 'that's Butt Naked.' People
    still fear him."

    Co-directed by Eric Strauss and Anastasion, "The Redemption of General
    Butt Naked," which premieres Saturday at the Sundance Film Festival
    and does not yet have distribution, is a compelling portrait of an
    extraordinarily complex personal odyssey, a film that explores both
    the power and the limitations of faith and forgiveness. "There are so
    many larger-than-life aspects here," says Strauss, "that if anyone had
    written it as a feature script it would have sounded absurd."

    Blahyi's story is so unusual, and his personality so strong and
    vibrant, that the filmmakers found — as Anastasion put it — "it was
    challenging to keep track of yourself, of your own reactions. He can
    be warm but then you remember what he did in the past. In the course
    of a day our opinion of him would change, we tried to keep track of
    each other, of where we each were. It messes with your head a little

    The filmmakers, both in their 30s, began working together at the
    National Geographic channel. The project started when Strauss came
    across a mention of Blahyi in a book called "The World's Most
    Dangerous Places."

    "It was just a tiny blurb about a notorious warlord who had killed
    thousands and was now walking the streets preaching truth and
    reconciliation," he remembers. "I wondered, 'Could someone like this
    really exist?'"

    Adds Anastasion: "Was a transformation this extreme even possible? And
    how would that play out in the real world?"

    Filming the answers to that, partially due to inevitable funding
    difficulties, took the team a very long five years. Yet, says Strauss,
    as it turned out, "it's a far better film because of the struggles we

    For one thing, during that period Blahyi agreed to admit his crimes
    before Liberia's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, something few
    warlords agreed to do, and the consequences of that testimony were
    ones even he did not anticipate. That five-year period also allowed
    the filmmakers to interview many of the people critical to Blahyi's

    These include preacher John Kun Kun, the man who started the general's
    conversion process by boldly coming to talk to him and insisting that
    God had a plan for him. Then there's a former child soldier, nicknamed
    Senegalese, Blahyi's second in command, who was the victim of one of
    his horrible acts of violence, an act directly related to Kun's visit.

    The filmmakers met Senegalese because Blahyi regularly seeks out
    people he has savagely wronged and asks for their forgiveness. "He
    genuinely puts himself out there, he doesn't have to put himself in
    these uncomfortable situations," says Strauss. "He literally runs into
    victims or families of victims on a daily basis."

    One of the most unnerving things the filmmakers discovered is that for
    Blahyi there was always a spiritual dimension to his actions, even
    when he was killing. Having served as a priest for the Krahn people,
    he felt he was fighting for this tribe and, says Strauss, "he was a
    deeply spiritually motivated person, and the persona of General Butt
    Naked came out of a traditional belief system. He says his god told
    him nudity would make him invincible to bullets, and when people saw
    him they felt it must be true, that he was protected. He went to bed
    at night and thought he was a hero."

    This transformational story has so many aspects to it that the
    filmmakers have intentionally not tied it up into a neat package.
    "This is such a story that can easily veer into black and white, an
    easy story to make overwrought," says Anastasion. "We didn't want to
    fall into the trap of taking a stance on Joshua. We wanted viewers to
    decide, to let the audience absorb the material. There needs to be an
    appetite for complexity."
  2. Ankhur

    Ankhur Well-Known Member MEMBER

    Oct 4, 2009
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    Peter once was a warlord for Rome

    How many of Kublai Khans men became Tibetan monks?