The Silent Army (Jean Van De Velde, 2008): Netherlands

Reviewed by Dru Radovich. Viewed at Grauman’s Chinese Theater, AFI Film Festival. 

The Silent Army is a riveting film about the realities of child soldiers in Uganda. The story follows the life of a widowed father raising his son, Thomas. Abu, Thomas’ best friends and confidant, suddenly disappears and the lives of the father and son are changed for ever. When the audience realizes Abu is now apart of the Silent Army, not a soul can deny the brutality and present danger such a culture faces. The hunt for Abu begins and the father-son team is relentless—they are fighting for more than just Abu. This film brilliantly captures the truthfulness of a documentary combined with the flawless effects of a big budget picture. The type of closeness that is felt in this film can only be grasped by the intense involvement of the director with his cast. He hand selected his cast and helped them throughout the entire two years of filming and through all of their emotions and personal battles. This film is inspiring and shows that the topic of child soldiers cannot be something that is tolerated or overlooked any longer. The film is able to convince audiences that something must be done and that it is possible that something can be done. The passion the director has for the topic is felt every second during the showing. As the director said himself in a question and answer session after the showing, he has never been more passionate about life than he has working on this film because the topic is “bigger than he is.”

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