25 June 2019

Liberia: Documentary Brings Focus to Liberia's 'Child Soldiers'

Photo: FrontPage Africa
Screenshot from documentary series Child Soldiers.

Monrovia — In the midst of a massive debate over the establishment of a war crimes court for Liberia, Director Stone Walters is hoping that his documentary series Child Soldiers sheds new light on a rapidly aging dilemma now engulfing Liberia's post-war political environment.

"The scars left by the Liberian civil war are still fresh," Walters says, alluding to the interest he hopes his documentary brings to fore of the national discourse. "People are still traumatized and there are many untold stories. Our people will learn that War is not an answer to any disagreement."

Through the instrumentality of Christopher Hansen, Walters says, the documentary currently in production will highlight the ordeals through the eyes of little Emmanuel Johnson as a Child Soldier.

Walters, a director and writer, known for Blended Family(2018), The Forgiven(2018 and the Last Decision of President Duo(2012), was born in Liberia and raised in the United States of America is a former US Marine, studying filmmaking at the New York Film Academy in Hollywood, Calif.

The documentary follows the plight of child soldier, Emmanuel, who was whisked away from his family by Colonel Murphy of Charles Taylor's National Patriotic Front of Liberia, when rebels entered Monrovia to become a child soldier.

Murphy, played by Major Dahnsaw, one of Liberia's emerging actors, portrays a violent character leading a band of rebels on a house-to-house raid to recruit young soldiers for Taylor's rebel war.

Dahnsaw says he was drawn to the project's appeal and its boldness to delve into the issue of child soldiers in a way no one has been able to do.

Walters, who previously did stints with the BET Network, says the idea of "Child Soldiers" came from his desire to capture the effects of war from his homeland. "It first came to mind when I worked at BET Network. I was brainstorming on what I could do next. I wanted to create something different and unique. I wanted a show that could resonate with anyone, anywhere, at any time. Then it hit me! What if I created a show which told the stories of now successful people who came from unimaginable beginnings? And that is how Child Soldiers, the documentary series was born."

Walters says while the documentary aims to showcase child soldiers from around the world, as a Liberian, it was important for him to start from his roots. "I had to start with what I knew best and so, I wrote the first episode about a Liberian Child Soldier."

Walters explains that the documentary was written and created four years ago but actual production, from pre-production to post-production took about six months. "We currently have eight episodes written, but only one shot. Our intention is to sell the show to Hollywood, and in the process secure financing for the other eight episodes. "

The director says all of the stories will be based on true events.

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