The Vice Guide to Liberia
A documentary about Liberia, a country ravaged by poverty, violence and political instability.
FILM FESTIVALS: Raindance Film Festival 2010
Part of the ‘Vice Guide to Travel’ series, Vice Guide to Liberia is a documentary about the ex-American colony and fourth poorest country in the world. The country’s massively turbulent recent history, various coups and horrifically brutal civil wars have left a devastating legacy of poverty and violence.
With ex-president Charles Talyor currently on trial for war crimes at The Hague, Vice’s Shane Smith sets out to investigate the state of the country and find out what has become of the civil war’s remaining warlords.
Smith and his intrepid crew venture into Liberia’s heart of darkness and there is an overarching feeling that they are genuinely in danger as they are often forced to flee from seemingly perilous situations. Things get particularly hairy when the team visit a brothel at night in West Point, one of West Africa’s and the world’s worst and most dangerous slums.
The film focuses on Joshua Blahyi, formerly a ferociously violent warlord known as ‘General Butt Naked’ (he was known for fighting naked), now an evangelist preacher and supposedly a reformed man. An interesting dynamic develops between Smith and the charismatic, but clearly sociopathic Blahyi.
This is intense viewing, generally in keeping with Vice’s proclivity for extreme subject matter. It is an insightful and disturbing documentary and it ultimately raises the question of what the future holds for Liberia.