Docpoint – Helsinki Documentary Film Festival


Theatre of Violence

Ugandan Dominic Ongwen was 9 years old when the movement terrorising the country, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), kidnapped him to their ranks. Under LRA’s cruel guidance, Ongwen grew into one of feared Joseph Kony’s commanders and the only one who has gone to court to answer for the war crimes that he committed.

The documentary makes a key claim of justice and how it prevails in the world. Colonialism and its tradition have created Africa’s dysfunctional state structures and its militant warlords, with the International Criminal Court (ICC) formed to clean up their war crimes. However, when it is a state committing the crimes and oppressing its people, it is overlooked, because the Western world needs to be able to trade in the valuable natural resources.

This claim may seem harsh, but Theatre of Violence proves it possible. In recent memory is Uganda’s latest election, in which pop star turned politician Bobi Wine was on track to win the presidency in the vote. The attempt was violently repressed by the current president’s security forces – the same military units that once fought the LRA. Still, few outlets reported on these events.

No one is going to deny the atrocities that Ongwen committed. Still, the trial might have been very different held locally in Uganda with its 48 million inhabitants, compared to the process lead by European men in the gray halls of Hague. 

Johanna Siik (translated by Inari Ylinen)

Content warning: discussion of war crimes

Language: Acholi, English
Subtitles: English for the deaf and hard of hearing
Length: 104 min
Age Limit: K16
Year: 2023
Production Country: Denmark, Germany

Director: Lukasz Konopa, Emil Langballe
Producer: Heidi Kim Andersen, Helle Faber
Production Company: Corso Film
Distribution Company: Dogwoof
Editing: Michael Aaglund, Rasmus Stensgaard Madsen
Cinematographer: Kacper Czubak
Sound Design: Kasper Janus Rasmussen, Patrick Svaneberg Vejen