Review: War Don Don (2010)

WarDonDon_IssaSesay_DetentionDirected by Rebecca Richman Cohen

Issa Sesay is a convicted war criminal. The tragically small number of Westerners who followed the 11 years of blood-soaked revolution in the African state of Sierra Leone know that, and it’s the first fact presented in this measured analysis of Sesay’s five-year trial.

Filming from behind bullet-proof glass in the Special Court for Sierra Leone, lawyer-turned-filmmaker Cohen eschews any graphic “war porn” footage. She also steers clear of deciding whether Sesay was guilty or not. Instead, she explores the trial as a philosophical battle over international justice. On one side are the prosecutors, who admit they must “dance with the devil” to get the justice they seek; on the other, defense attorneys whose quest for mitigating circumstances becomes clouded by their relationship with their client. Yet most powerful are all the voices of mutilated and murdered victims of war.

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