PBS-TV Review by Kam Williams
Headline: PBS Series Documentary from Liberia Features 2011 Nobel Peace Prize-Winner
Liberia was founded in 1847 by former U.S. slaves shipped back to Africa by the American Colonization Society. Unfortunately, these repatriated blacks considered themselves superior to the indigenous peoples they encountered there, and so they set up a society in which the descendants of African-Americans formed an advantaged elite class.
The tensions which ensued between the two groups essentially remained unaddressed until everything came to a head in 1989. That was when the first of a couple of civil wars erupted which combined would claim over 200,000 lives and last until 2003.
Pray the Devil Back to Hell recounts the story of how a ceasefire was finally achieved, namely, through the determined efforts of a coalition of Christian and Muslim women fed up with having to beg for food and to raise their children amidst incessant slaughter, raping and looting. Led by 2011 Nobel Peace Prize-winner Leymah Gbowee, a mom with a toddler, and armed only with T-shirts, signs and a willingness to die for their cause, this intrepid sisterhood stood toe-to-toe with both President Charles Taylor and with the Sierra Leone-based rebels attempting to topple the corrupt ruler’s oppressive regime.
What makes this documentary so compelling are the reams of archival footage which allow us to witness, firsthand, the fighting, the peace demonstrations and the negotiations which led to the ouster of the corrupt strongman Taylor. Ultimately, he was replaced by Ms. Gbowee’s fellow Nobel Laureate, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, who is sub-Saharan Africa’s first elected female head of state.
A salute is in order to director Gini Reticker for this glorious tribute to a bi-partisan band of unarmed women who succeeded where government and UN intervention had failed miserably. For against the odds, they somehow managed to turn chaos into calm by marching en masse and refusing to compromise on their non-negotiable demand that the madness end once and for all.
Excellent (4 stars)
Running Time: 60 minutes
Studio: Fork Films
Pray the Devil Back to Hell premieres Tuesday, October 18, 2011, 10:00-11:00 p.m. ET/PT on PBS’ WOMEN, WAR & PEACE series.
Filmed in conflict zones in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Colombia and Liberia, the five-hour series WOMEN, WAR & PEACE examines the changing roles of women in war and peace.
"I Came to Testify" – the moving story of how a group of 16 women who had been imprisoned and raped by Serb-led forces in the Bosnian town of Foca broke history’s great silence and stepped forward to take the witness stand in an international court of law.
-Airdate: 10/11/2011 Time: 10:00 - 11:00 PM
"Pray the Devil Back to Hell" – the astonishing story of the Liberian women who took on the warlords and regime of dictator Charles Taylor in the midst of a brutal civil war and won a once unimaginable peace for their shattered country in 2003.
=Airdate: 10/18/2011 Time: 10:00 - 11:00 PM
"Peace Unveiled" – the story of three women in Afghanistan who are risking their lives to make sure that women have a seat at the negotiating table.
-Airdate: 10/25/2011 Time: 10:00 - 11:00 PM
"The War We Are Living" – the story of Cauca, a mountainous region in Colombia’s Pacific southwest, where two extraordinary Afro-Colombian women are fighting to stay on their gold-rich lands.
-Airdate: 11/1/2011 Time: 10:00 - 11:00 PM
"War Redefined" – the capstone of WOMEN, WAR & PEACE challenges the conventional wisdom that war and peace are men’s domain through incisive interviews with leading thinkers, secretaries of state and seasoned survivors of war and peacemaking. -Airdate: 11/8/2011 Time: 10:00 - 11:00 PM
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
PBS-TV Review by Kam Williams