It brings to life brutal, visceral reality of children caught up in civil wars across Africa
Children as young as nine have been and are still involved in armed conflicts in different parts of the world. While we are used to hearing reports about child soldiers, we hardly stop to seriously think about these children and what they do. On a serious note, who are the child soldiers and what do they do to those who happen to be their unfortunate victims?
“Johnny Mad Dog”, a new film answering these and many other questions has just been released by Momentum Pictures Home Entertainment.
“Johnny Mad Dog” brings to life the brutal, visceral reality of children caught up in civil wars across Africa.
Directed by Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire and produced by acclaimed French actor Mathieu Kassovitz (Amelie, Munich), “Johnny Mad Dog” features former child soldiers and victims of civil war from Liberia in central roles in what is a genuinely unforgettable and truly unforgiving look at the reality of how civil war affects the children who sit at both ends of the gun barrel.
The eponymous Johnny (Christopher Minie) is the lieutenant of an especially violent gang of young soldiers who believe they are leading a fight against a President they despise in an unnamed African country. The gang’s belief in their cause sees them commit atrocity after atrocity in the name of freedom, with rape, murder and brutalisation the tools in their personal war that is seeing the country fall into a state of ruin.
At the same time, Laokolé (Daisy Victoria Vandy), a 16-year old student in the country’s decimated capital, is attempting to flee the oncoming storm of violence with her baby brother, unaware that her plans will lead her inexorably towards an encounter with Johnny.
Gripping, frank and incredibly raw, “Johnny Mad Dog” is as important as it is affecting. Following an impressive showing at this year’s London Film Festival, the film’s release on DVD delivers a unique opportunity to witness the reality of what war means to the thousands of young lives that inevitably are consumed by it.
“Johnny Mad Dog” is a very important film highlighting a sad reality in many African countries where those thirsty for power easily collect desperate, hopeless children and turn them into brutal killers.
Child soldiers are worse than adult soldiers when it comes to killings and human rights violations. For a people who don’t care about their own lives, the lives of others have no value at all. They kill the very people they are supposed to protect and liberate.
After a few minutes’ training, they are given the gun and ordered to use it to get whatever they want. No food is provided to them, but since they have the gun, they can get it.
Since most of them don’t even know how to read and write, they are brainwashed, made to believe they are playing a noble role of liberating their people by ousting a leader whose mistake they don’t even know. What they know for sure is that the leader belongs to another tribe and that is more than enough to make them want him out of power.
This film shows how the tribe factor is usually used to either support or oust people from leadership positions in many African countries.
Watching “Johnny Mad Dog” helps one understand how the child soldiers are made to fight with a promise of being paid at a later stage, a pay that they hardly get.
And once the objective of getting to power is achieved, they are abandoned. Having spent most part of their lives fighting and mistreating people, that’s all they know. They therefore find it very difficult to return to a normal life.
“Johnny Mad Dog” is an appeal against the use of child soldiers. No one can remain indifferent to the plight of child soldiers and their victims after watching this film.
The film effectively challenges the viewer to do everything possible to prevent the recruitment and use of children as soldiers, to support their demobilisation and facilitate their rehabilitation and reintegration into society.
By Stephen Ogongo