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Thursday, February 16, 2006
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American premiere of documentary on Liberia scheduled for Feb. 19

ATHENS, Ohio (Feb. 16, 2006) -- The American premiere for a new documentary film, "Liberia: A Fragile Peace," will be shown on Sunday, Feb. 19, at 7 p.m. in Mitchell Auditorium in Seigfred Hall. The one-hour film tells the story of the Liberian people's struggle to rebuild their nation after 14 years of civil war.

"Liberia: A Fragile Peace" is part of the collaborative efforts of many people connected with Ohio University. The film is directed by Steven Ross, an assistant professor at the school of film, co-produced by Andrew Carlson, who graduated with a masters of arts from International Development Studies, and associate produced by Karen Dahn, an assistant to the dean of Arts and Sciences.

In addition, award-winning photographer Chris Hondros, a graduate of the School of Visual Communication, provided all of the still photographs used in the documentary.

Steven Ross finished the final version of the film last month after Liberia's August election, which elected the first woman in Africa as a head-of-state. Ross said, "We hear so many sad stories, so the whole idea that a country in Africa can rebuild is interesting. The verdict is still out, but there's renewed hope with the election."

Another aspect that makes the story so compelling is Liberia's history with the United States. Freed American slaves in the mid-1800s, who set up a political system similar to the United States, although they shared little power with the indigenous majority population, started the republic of Liberia. It was this unequal power situation that enabled dictators to gain power in the 1980s, which later developed into a civil war that destabilized all of West Africa.

Ross who found it challenging to make a film about such a fluid situation said the Ohio University screening will build awareness in general about Africa and specifically about Liberia.

The film has premiered at several film festivals in Africa, including the Cape Town World Cinema Festival, and is used as an employee training film for the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL). It was also picked up by the California Newsreel, the most prestigious distributor of films about Africa in the United States.

The event is sponsored by the Ohio University School of Film and the Athens Center for Film and Video and a question-and-answer session will follow the screening.

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Media Contact: Media Specialist George Mauzy, (740) 597-1794 or mauzy@ohio.edu

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