Boy Soldiers

EZRA
RUNNING TIME 105 minutes
WRITTEN BY Newton I. Aduaka and Alain-Michel Blanc
DIRECTED BY Newton I. Aduaka
STARRING Mamoudu Turay Kamara, Mariame N’Diaye, Mamusu Kallon

Newton I. Aduaka’s Ezra, from a screenplay by Mr. Aduaka and Alain-Michel Blanc, is reportedly the first African-made film to deal with the kidnapping and subsequent brutalization of the so-called child soldiers in Africa’s seemingly interminable civil wars. Ezra’s story is that of a 6-year-old in Sierra Leone, abducted from his family and indoctrinated with the rhetoric of the revolution. The title character is given a rifle and powerful amphetamines that keep him awake for days of murderous raids on hitherto peaceful villages.

The atrocities continue until Ezra is 16 and is brought before a Truth and Reconciliation Commission that seeks not to punish the onetime child soldier, but to help rehabilitate by compelling him to face up to his previous acts. In the end Ezra can remember nothing of his drug-clouded past and is sent home.

The film is awash with good intentions, and the actual atrocities are vividly depicted and chilling. The childhood Ezra is particularly electrifying in his rapid descent from innocence to savagery, but the film loses its momentum when it attempts to analyze the evils of poverty, anarchy and violence.

Boy Soldiers