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Friday, October 17, 2003
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Documentary filmmakers report from Liberia

An Ohio University group left Oct. 4 for Accra, Ghana, to begin shooting a documentary film on the challenges facing Liberia?s soon-to-be-inaugurated interim government. Andrew Carlson, a recent graduate of International Development Studies, reports on the experience of the group, which includes Steven Ross, assistant professor in the School of Film, and Manfred Ashiboe-Mensah, a graduate student in Telecommunications and African Studies.

The documentary film crew with Marcus Dahn.Oct. 14 is a day of meaning for Liberians. Their civil war has lasted 14 years, and today, Oct. 14, there was inaugurated a government that has full support of Liberians and the international community. For us, the transition began yesterday when we went to the airport to greet the interim Chairman and Vice-Chairman. We were there to film their arrival and to follow their caravan 30 miles back to Monrovia, along roads crowded with people chanting, "No more war, we want peace!"

Today, their inauguration took place in the capital building which was looted several months ago. The joint chambers, where the Senate and House meet, has had its chairs and carpets removed, literally ripped from the concrete. Yet, the people came together there to show their support for the new chairman, and for his part, he pledged to make Liberia free of the corruption that has made the country a "failed state" and to work together with the factions on the ground and the other countries in the region to preserve and further the peace process.

After we left the inauguration, we went to an area called the Barclay Training Center, a site of much killing during the last war. On this day, it was full of people singing and dancing, and when we arrived with our camera, many of them took the opportunity to thank their leaders for peace, the United Nations, and the international community, for their support of the process, and us, for being there to listen to their story.

It's been hard. The camps for people who have fled are overpopulated and the people don't have enough food. They are living in buildings all over Monrovia, wherever they have been able to find a place. In spite of this, their message to us has been to take the story home and make the international community aware of Liberia, and what is happening here.

There is much more to tell. We are looking forward to sharing Liberia's day of peace and hope more fully when we return. All the best to Ohio University and Athens. The people of Liberia say hello.

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