Yesterday the directors of the AFI Project 20/20 films that are screening at the Doris Duke Theatre this week, as well as project producer Stacey Marbrey, came to the Academy for lunch with Film Curator Gina Caruso, Deputy Director Rob Saarnio, President of NETPAC/USA Jeanette Paulson Hereniko, Academy for Creative Media instructor and cinematographer Anne Misawa (her “Treeless Mountain” screened at this year’s Toronto Film Festival) and me. I sat next to Siatta Scott Johnson, a broadcast journalist from Monrovia, Liberia, and co-director of “Iron Ladies of Liberia.” Co-director Daniel Junge, a Colorado-based filmmaker, was looking for a partner who knew the troubled country intimately. Born and raised in Liberia, Siatta was the woman for the job. She also lived through the country’s nearly two-decade-long civil war. To hear her speak frankly about having to run into the jungle for her life, and seeing friends and loved ones killed, adds another dimension to her film, a powerful documentary about the first female leader in Africa, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Her election brought a shining moment of hope. Then she faced reality—a $3.7 billion debt for a country of just three million people, foreign companies (like Firestone) exploiting Liberian laborers, massive corruption—sound familiar? (Why has everyone seem to have forgotten the Halliburton scam so quickly?) Siatta followed this straight-talking woman for a year, and you can see the result on Friday at 1pm, when she will present her film and lead a Q+A afterward.
See the trailer.
“Iron Ladies of Liberia” || Doris Duke Theatre || Nov 14 and 16 at 1pm