Friday, August 10, 2007


Here's a documentary worth checking out. The film follows a group of talented musicians who fled the civil war in their home country of Sierra Leone and met at a refugee camp in Guinea. Scheduled to be released on DVD on August 14th, the film has recently partnered with Netflix and every time a DVD of the film is purchased, $1 goes to, a human rights campaign to raise funds for refugee children. So please spread the word...

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(a documentary film by Banker White and Zach Niles)

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 are a band of six Sierra Leonean musicians who 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.

Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars 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 the film Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars have been able to launch an international musical career, while drawing the accolades of Keith Richards, Paul McCartney, Ice Cube (one of the executive producers of the film), and Joe Perry.

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.

Nine million faces. Nine million names. Nine million stories. Nine million children are refugees right now. is a UN Refugee Agency led campaign to raise awareness and funds for education and sports programs for refugee youth, many of whom are forced to spend years of their young lives away from home with little hope of returning. What happens to them now, during their years as refugees, is up to all of us. Please spread the word.

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