UC Berkeley Library

Sierra Leone


Documentary that takes a satirical, hard-hitting look at how "blinging" in the flashy world of commercial hip-hop played a role in the 10-year civil war in Sierra Leone. Film takes U.S. hip-hop celebrities on a journey to Sierra Leone diamond mining communities where they meet former child soldiers, refugees and local hip-hop artists. Featuring: Tego Calderón, Raekwon, Paul Wall, Ishmael Beah, Johnny Dang, Jadakiss, Bishop Don Juan, Big Daddy Kane, Juelz Santana, Bill Stephney, Kanye West, Kareem Woods. Written and directed by Raquel Cepeda. Originally broadcast on VH1 in 2007. 87 min.

Cry Freetown

Award-winning cameraman Sorious Samura returns to Sierra Leone to expose the horror of his country's civil war. In January 1999, the rebel forces attacked Freetown, the capital, killing thousands of civilians. Despite journalists being threatened with death, Samura filmed on the streets of the city throughout capturing extraordinary and disturbing footage of innocent victims of a civil war largely ignored by the West. Producer and director, Ron McCullagh. 2000. 28 min.


Tells the story of Ezra, a young boy kidnapped and forced to become a soldier with a rebel faction in the Sierra Leone Civil War. Ten years later, he is brought before a truth and reconciliation commission and made to revisit and understand his crimes so as to begin the process of psychological healing. Director: Newton Aduaka. 2007. 105 min.
web web sites:Description from California Newsreel catalog

Family Across the Sea.

Film examines how scholars have uncovered the remarkable connections between the Gullah people of South Carolina and the people of Sierra Leone and how the Gullahs incorporated many aspects of African culture including the language into the daily life of the plantations. Film concludes with a delegation of Gullah people traveling from the United States to Sierra Leone to trace the roots of their heritage. 1991. 56 min.
web web sites:Description from California Newsreel catalog

Nightmare in Paradise: The Story Behind a Military Coup

Chronicles the recent political history of Sierra Leone, a small West African nation, rich in natural resources, which has been plagued by politically corrupt governments since its establishment as a republic in 1971. Following the 1992 overthrow of the dictatorial regime of Joseph Saidu Momoh, African journalist Hilton Fyle returned to his native country to interview a cross-section of Sierra Leoneans who comment on current conditions and recount the numerous abuses of Momoh's one-party state. Dist. Cinema Guild. c1992. 98 min.

Operation Fine Girl: Rape Used as a Weapon of War in Sierra Leon

Documentary about the use of sexual violence against women as a weapon in the Sierra Leone civil war. The story is told through the eyes of survivors: women and girls, as well as the child soldiers and perpetrators. A production of the Witness Project which uses video technology to investigate human rights abuses. Dist.: Witness Project. 2001. 46 min.

Returning Dreams. (Life; 4)

Fourteen-year old Jemoh has been living in a refugee camp in Sierra Leone for three years. This program follows her on her return journey home to Liberia, and the mixed picture she finds there. Jemoh is just one of millions of children caught up in the world's conflicts. Some are forced to fight and kill; others are used as slaves and "wives." Those that do survive are left brutalized and traumatized. How, this program asks, can these children be rehabilitated who have gone through such experiences? Directed by Emily Marlow. 2005. 23 min.

The Diamond Life.

The Revolutionary United Front's attack on Freetown in January of 1999 was the culmination of a decade-long struggle between the RUF and the government of Sierra Leone. The rebel forces, bolstered by the former Sierra Leonean Army, which had turned on the government, swept into the city, killing, mutilating, and raping thousands in the continuing war over the control of the country's rich diamond fields. Since 1990, half the country's population of five million has been displaced. Today, Sierra Leone produces more refugees than any other country in Africa.

The Empire in Africa

The rebels who started the civil war in Sierra Leone 15 years ago wanted only one thing: to reclaim the richness of the country from foreign corporations in order to end the exploitation of its people. In response, the international community decided to wage a war on this country, with bombs, executions, torture, rigged elections and manipulation of the international media. This created one of the worst humanitarian disasters of the 20th century. Producer/director, Philippe Diaz. 2006. 87 min.

The Language You Cry In: [The Story of a Mende Song]. (Library of African Cinema.)

The film tells an amazing scholarly detective story reaching across hundreds of years and thousands of miles from 18th century Sierra Leone to the Gullah people of present-day Georgia. It recounts the even more remarkable saga of how African Americans retained links with their African past through a song, a burial hymn of the Mende people brought by slaves to the rice plantations of the Southeast coast more than two hundred years ago. In English and Mende with English subtitles. Producer/Directors: Alvaro Toepke and Angel Serrano. 1999. 53 min.