Uplifting and courageous, this dramatic seven-time award-winning film by Zach Niles and Banker White tracks the journey of Sierra Leone s Refugee All Stars--a group of six musicians who formed a band after being displaced from their home during the brutal decade-long civil war in Sierra Leone--as they rise from the ashes of war and inspire a nation to believe in the healing power of music.
SIERRA LEONE S REFUGEE ALL STARS follows band mates Reuben Koroma, Francis Franco Langba, Efuah Grace, Mohammed Bangura, Arahim Kamara and Alhadji Black Nature Kamara through their tour of local refugee camps, debut recording session and painful return to their country for the first time since the war. The band s sound, a mixture of home-grown beats from West Africa, roots-reggae and Western-influenced rhythm and blues combined with heartfelt lyrics which condemn war and encourage social change, have been praised around the world, leading to the band s first American tour.
DVD Features: Featurette: Refugee Rolling - this short film picks up the band s story as they prepare for their first journey to America and quickly become an international musical sensation; Deleted Scenes; Musical Moments; About ninemillion.org; Theatrical Trailer
The indomitable human spirit shines through in Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars, the true tale of some African musicians who managed to survive, even thrive, during their country's darkest days. From 1991 to 2002, Sierra Leone, a former British colony located on Africa's west coast, was devastated by a civil war in which brutal rebel militias laid waste to their own country. Thousands were killed, while those who survived lost family members, homes, and, in many cases, limbs and other body parts that were hacked off by the sadistic rebels (the film contains grim, sometimes graphic footage of such atrocities). Like many fellow Sierra Leoneans, singer-songwriter Reuben M. Koroma and the other members of the group that came to be known as the Refugee All Stars fled to neighboring Guinea (as did people from Liberia and the Ivory Coast after war broke out there as well). Despite frequent moves from one camp to another ("Today you settle, tomorrow you pack" was one of their mantras), the musicians manage to keep writing songs, practicing, and performing for other refugees; their music, played on drums and electric guitars, bass, and keyboards, is a lilting, infectious, often joyful sound, influenced by Jamaican reggae and reflecting their wartime experiences simply and literally. When the war finally ends, many are reluctant to return to Freetown, Sierra Leone's capital and largest city. But when the United Nations offers to sponsor a brief visit that will include the recording of their first album, Koroma and company agree. And while the place they go back to is a mess, with many people living in poverty and squalor, it is, after all, their homeland; in the end, patriotism and the redemptive power of music transcend. Among the extensive bonus features are deleted scenes, a 20-minute featurette that documents preparations for the All Stars' first world tour, and a variety of "musical moments," including a 2006 gig in Japan. --Sam Graham