This project has attracted some of the top film, music and photography talents in Canada and the United States: K'NAAN who has contributed his song, "Fire in Freetown," to this trailer you see; JERRY McINTOSH, a longtime executive for CBC-TV and now heads the documentary program at the world renown Canadian Film Centre; Hot Docs board member WALTER FORSYTH who produced the viral hit How to Be Alone and the feature doc CUBERS; New York photographer FIONA ABOUD, and journalist/filmmaker ALLAN TONG.
They're helping me make a 15-minute documentary about an amputee soccer team in Sierra Leone. I was born there, but grew up in Canada where I make movies and TV series. NOTE: Only a few minutes of rough, demonstration footage (in the trailer here) has been shot. The funds raised will be used to go back and shoot this movie.
The film will profile these players whose arms and legs rebel soldiers hacked off in the civil war of the 90s. They were children then, and today the players have no family, job or home -- only the game of soccer. The team is their family, and their fans their admirers. Soccer has turned these amputees from victims into champions.
The amputees inspire me. They have nothing in this world except their teammates and the game of soccer. Soccer gives them hope and (pardon the pun) a goal in life. The team has won the all-African championships which has made them heroes. Imagine a stadium cheering a homeless, legless, 22-year-old man.
Secondly, I feel a kinship with the players. I'm of that generation that suffered the most during the civil war. If I had stayed in Sierra Leone I could've lost my arm, lost my family, and been enslaved. Only because my father taught abroad did I escape the killing fields. It is impossible not to wonder how my life could've been if I had followed a different path.
The inspiration comes from FIONA ABOUD, associate producer and a New York photographer who shot the Leone Stars during an assignment in 2007, and from Allan Tong who alerted me to Fiona's photos. Their reaction to these players was the same.
The amputees give me hope, and I bet they will inspire you.
- (50 days)