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THE CHILD SOLDIER
A short film by Eppo Eerkes
Two friends from a war ravaged North American village head out for school. Their journey is cut short when a band of child soldiers attack the school bus bringing their mothers greatest fears to reality. Based on true events.
“The Child Soldier” is a short film which follows the story of Samuel, a boy living in a small village, plagued by famine, war, and economic devastation. The film’s setting mirrors the economic situation in northern Uganda. But this tale will not be told against the backdrop of the African plain. Our main character in fact, is a twelve year old Caucasian. He lives with his mother and little sister in a run-down, ramshackle, western North American community.
The setting is a fictional, war-torn world, isolated at the frontier of a developing nation. It’s set against the stark contrast and beauty of endless miles of forested mountains and wilderness. Samuel attends a communal school each and every day, boarding a military protected bus and studying under the watchful gaze of government troops. When his bus is ambushed by a group of rebels on horseback one day, his world is turned upside down.
Samuel’s story plays out in a fictional world. But his experiences, hopes, dreams, fears and conflicts are an amalgamation of a vast number of factual, documented accounts from real Ugandan children who have experienced similar fates. Samuel’s story is their story. It’s spoken in a new and desperately needed voice. His story stands as a symbol to all children who are forced to fight in wars worldwide.
In 1997 I traveled to 7 countries in Africa including Uganda. It was an unforgettable 3 month journey where I was able to experience all the incredible offerings this continent had to offer including the wildlife, scenery and culture. In 2004 I discovered like much of the world that while i was in Southern Uganda in ’97 a horrific atrocity was taking place only 2 hours away in Northern Uganda. The Lords Resistance Army had been raiding their own communities in defiance of the Southern ruling government. The terrifying facts revealed that children from these communities as young as 7 were being forced to fight for the LRA. I was sickened to discover that these atrocities were taking place while i was there in Uganda. So I had to do something about it. I decided to travel to the war zone and interview child soldiers who were recently repatriated back to their country. My goal ultimately was to create a film taking their stories and giving them an innovative twist showing the world that child soldiers anywhere no matter what colour of skin is a complete travesty. This video below was produced using footage from that research trip.
ABOUT THE FILMMAKER
In Eppo’s words
Let me introduce myself, I’m Eppo Eerkes… I also have another name, ‘Yinagha K’izzaa’, translated it means ‘Half Moon’. Elder and Medicine Man ‘Spotted Eagle’ from the Tsuut’ina Nation gave me the First Nations’ name ‘Half Moon’ due to my keen eye for directing films as well as searching for ‘The Light’ in others. I represent the seekers, the risk-takers, the creative, free-spirited adventurers out there; the ones who want more forests and freeways; outback and oceans in their lives; those who push their own, personal boundaries. I want to pursue films and story that represents this perspective and philosophy.
Eppo is an Internationally award-winning Director, frontiersman and explorer of cultures, His relentless curiosity has found him filming from the high arctic to east Africa. It’s taken him from the Ecuadorian Andes to the Congalese mountains; from the Alberta badlands to the Costa Rican jungle. If it’s the magic and ruggedness of an experience you want to capture, then Eppo is the name you need to remember. Eppo has created, written and directed over 100 hours of network broadcast film and television. You can see his work on Discovery, History Channel USA, Animal Planet USA and National Geographic. Eppo is also an independent film director who has several upcoming and finished scripted shorts and features.
A passionate story-teller, much of Eppo’s content has focused on the fragile relationships between man and animal/man and the environment. Eppo has a respect for the spirit that resides in all living things, the thrill of the new, the delight of the unexpected. Eppo continues to hone and develop his craft by working on projects which inspire and explore the human spirit. You can follow him here:
“The Child Soldier” will be screened at the Edmonton Short Film Festival this Saturday.
Read more on Todayville.com.
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