Rebel forces fought their way into Sierra Leone’s capital of Freetown, murdering, burning homes, and hacking off the limbs of innocent civilians. Edwin Koi did not hide from the approaching army but, instead, grabbed his old video camera and went directly into the battle zone. Three years later he gave his tape to Utah filmmaker Trent Harris and told him to “show the world.” Harris’s 19-minute documentary, which includes portions of Koi’s tape, sheds some light on the dark past of Sierra Leone, a country cursed with vast diamond mines, child soldiers and cannibal militias. As part of its Diverse Voices screening series, KUED-Channel 7 will screen the documentary at The City Library Auditorium Tuesday, June 19, at 7 p.m.
Harris will talk about the film. He originally traveled to Sierra Leone, a country ravaged by 10 years of brutal civil war, to make a film about child soldiers. But, as often happens, events took him elsewhere. While visiting a museum, he met Edwin Koi, who asked him if he were a filmmaker. When Harris said yes, Koi said he had been waiting for him to come, that his prayers had finally been answered. He then took Harris to his home, where he had hidden under floorboards the footage he had captured the day the rebels invaded. Harris’ short film includes interviews with Koi, as well as with child soldiers, and with the man who originally unearthed the blood diamond connection. Following Harris’s remarks, KUED will show the P.O.V. film, “Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars,”
a story of survival and hope. The six-member Refugee All Stars, a reggae-inflected band born in the camps of West Africa, came together in Guinea after the civil war forced the band’s members from their native Sierra Leone. The band performs this summer at the Red Butte Garden Concert series. Two sets of tickets will be given away at the KUED screening. The P.O.V. film, “Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars” airs on KUED-Channel 7 Tuesday, June 26, at 11 p.m. The Diverse Voices screening is presented by KUED, The City Library and the Salt Lake Film Center. KUED’s Diverse Voices initiative is funded in part by American Express, B.W. Bastian Foundation and the Salt Lake Tribune. P.O.V. underwriting is provided by City Weekly, Cutrubus Automotive Team and the ESRR Vision Trust.