Fight Like Soldiers Film
A radio message swells across the Rwandan-Congolese border: There is a way out. The UN will accept child soldiers, get them out, and find them a way forward.
The UN radio message is a rare moment of hope in this documentary by Patrick Reed, which follows General Roméo Dallaire, Former UN Commander to Rwanda, on his mission across Africa.
Dallaire makes for a complex subject – he appears both haunted and charismatic. He is the driving force behind the film, which is strengthened by his raw honesty and frank asides. After meeting with a Mai Mai militia commander who denies using child soldiers, he comments “I really wanted to say: listen you asshole, come on and tell me what the hell you're doing with these kids.”
The most vivid moments are when Dallaire speaks with former child soldiers and other affected youth, like a brother and sister who were rescued from the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) by their father. The film is interspersed with graphic novel-style animation, first-hand stories of child soldiers that are a bit at odds with the documentary style, but provide a vivid counterpoint.
The documentary leaves you with the slippery sense that the worst of the atrocities could be ended with the imprisonment of Joseph Kony, leader of the LRA – a snake (or a devil) hidden deep within the jungle.
The film is based on Dallaire’s second book, They Fight Like Soldiers, They Die Like Children (Random House). His first book, Shake Hands With the Devil, was also made into an award-winning documentary by Patrick Reed.