FAMBUL TOK NOT RATED Sierra Leone crept into the news a decade ago through accounts of child soldiers hacking limbs from thousands of victims. The nation largely vanished from Western media after an internationally imposed peace settlement, but as Sara Terry’s documentary Fambul Tok shows, not all forms of peace are entirely desirable. Perpetrators on all sides were granted blanket immunity aside from a slender handful of leaders indicted under a laborious, expensive international tribunal. The butchers continued to live among those they slaughtered. Anxiety was high.
Fambul Tok focuses on the grassroots campaign by Sierra Leone’s John Caulker to foster truth and reconciliation meaningfully rather than ineffectually—through understanding life on the ground rather than imposing inappropriate foreign models. Drawing on the age-old traditions of a West African culture that valued community and understood the meaning of shame, Caulker’s Fambul Tok (literally “Family Talk”) movement provides an environment in which victims can accuse and engage with their malefactors in front of their village neighbors. The film opens hair-raisingly in village assembly, lit by a crackling bonfire, where a woman points to her uncle, who admits to joining in gang raping the girl during the civil war. She was only 12 at the time. By encouraging participation in the process and respecting local customs, Caulker’s concept provides a way of thinking about conflict resolution in other places. (David Luhrssen) 7:30 p.m. March 29 at Marquette University Alumni Memorial Union Room 163. Free and open to the public.
MIRROR MIRROR PG In order to stay on the throne in high style, wicked Queen Clementianna (Julia Roberts) overtaxes the people and locks her stepdaughter, Princess White (Lily Collins), away and out of sight. Clementianna hopes to marry the young, wealthy Prince Andrew (Armie Hammer), a hunk recovering at the castle after being attacked by seven tiny thieves. Sparks fly when the prince accidentally glimpses Princess White, prompting the queen to abandon the girl in the wilderness to die. Instead, the lovely princess is rescued by seven dwarf bandits who tutor her in the arts of deception and thievery, skills needed to beat the queen at her own game. The first of two Snow White retellings scheduled for release this year, this one is suitable for children and sufficiently amusing for adults. (Lisa Miller)
OCTOBER BABY PG-13 Hannah has stage fright (captured well in the disorienting opening scene) that results from her childhood. The now college-age girl embarks on a road trip of discovery to piece together her origins. It’s a good and capably acted setup, but it runs aground on a heavy-handed presentation of evangelical fundamentalist messages. (Morton Shlabotnik)
UNDEFEATED PG-13 When the Firestone plant closed, the largely African-American city of North Memphis descended into blight—and impoverished Manassas High School sank with it. Dan Lindsay and T.J. Martin’s documentary explores what happened when a local white businessman, Bill Courtney, became the school’s volunteer football coach. The team hadn’t won a game in more than 10 seasons, but, little by little, Courtney coached them to a playoff victory and changed lives along the way. An inspiring story of redemption, Undefeated doesn’t flinch from examining how difficult it was for Courtney to motivate children of poverty and crime, many of them lacking self-respect and any viable sense of community. Along with running the pigskin to the goal line, Courtney taught his students to think beyond their present circumstances and to make better choices than many of their peers. (D.L.)
Opens March 30 at Downer Theatre.