In 1991, Sierra Leone fell into a bloody civil war that left 50,000 dead from 11 years of fighting. Thousands of children were abducted and forced to serve by rebel forces, of which 30% of these children were girls between the ages of 8 and 18. When the war ended in 2002, the government emphasized reconciliation and encouraged communities to accept these female combatants back into their homes. Today, these women often walk amongst their past tormentors and captors.
"Andrew's ability to take all the raw material I gathered in the field In Sierra Leone, stills, video and audio, and turn it into a multimedia short documentary in a relatively short amount of time was absolutely brilliant. His in depth look at the material, combined with his sensitivity and journalistic integrity as a filmmaker and editor enabled us to put together a film with a strong storyline that was true to the voices of the women featured in the film. We were working together remotely, me in South Africa and Andrew in the US, but we were still able to have a fluent collaboration via several Skype brainstorming sessions in which we discussed the narrative we wanted to put across. His genuine interest in understanding the story subject was paramount to a powerful end result."
– Jonathan Torgovnik, Photographer, Reportage by Getty Images, 2013
Photographer Jonathan Torgovnik, was commissioned by The Telegraph (London) to shoot a series of portraits of former female combatants living together in Binkola Town, Sierra Leone. Reportage by Getty Images approached me to produce a video featuring Torgovnik's images, video, and interviews to be published as part of the Telegraph Saturday Magazine's digital package including Torgovnik's portraits, and article by writer Jean Friedman Rudovsky. The story would be published both in print and online.
The result was a chilling 7-minute video told through the interwoven stories of seven former female combatants. The narrative, driven by shocking anecdotes and emotional testimony, is paired with Torgovnik's powerful photography and video, and original motion graphics. Bridging a decade since the conclusion of the war, the story connects the horrific experiences of rape, killing, and abuse that these women endured during their abduction, with the aftermath and trauma that they face today as a survivor. This groundbreaking project illuminates an under-reported issue of war and conflict, and forces viewers to question their very idea of the “child soldier.”