Death of Two Sons
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(Oct 30, 2007)
On Feb. 4, 1999, four New York City Police officers killed Amadou Diallo on his own doorstep in a hail of 41 bullets. Jesse Thyne, an American Peace Corps volunteer who lived and worked with Amadou's family in his home village in Africa, died there less than a year after Amadou's shooting. "Death of Two Sons" examines the political, personal, and spiritual implications of these two deaths.
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First we have Amadou Diallo, a young man from Guinea,bright, educated, and hard-working - slaughtered by officers of the New York Police Department as he was entering his apartment, as he showed police his wallet. Half of the 43 bullets fired penetrated his body, leaving his body in the vestibule, lying in a pool of blood. The black people of New York would be up in arms because one of their own skin color had been gunned down by police with no cause.
Then we come to know young Jesse Thyne, a Peace Corps volunteer living in Guinea, in the same village that Amadou came from, who became a family member of that village, stayed in Amadou's grandfather's home. His spirit would bring many to love him there in Africa. His tragic death was caused by a reckless bush cab driver, and brought the people of Guinea, nearly all black, to rise up and speak out as they mourned the untimely death of their adopted son.
These two young men never met, yet each of their lives are intertwined. Each of them left their homes, journeying to a foreign land, and was killed far from home. But this isn't the story of their deaths, so much as it is a beautiful documentary of their lives... and a vivid illustration of the similarities between them.
The people of Guinea never saw Jesse in the poor light that the NYPD put upon Amadou. They grieved his death as deeply as if he had been born amongst them, as an individual person. Here in the States, Amadou's murder was made a racial issue by people who never knew him.
A returned Peace Corps Volunteer himself, director Micah Schaeffer is triumphant in revealing this moving tale of these two sons. Not at all preachy, he presents the story and allows the audience to decide for themselves how and what they feel, making it all the more powerful in the telling.
Set in both Guinea and NYC, this is not a reenactment, but a documentary. The people are all real, their tales are real, and the result is both sweet and sorrowful as we come to know these two sons and mourn their passing ourselves. This is a rare film - I've never seen anything like it before. You owe it to yourself to experience Death Of Two Sons... and share the tale with others.