Movie Review, “Surviving the Peace: Angola”Posted: February 7, 2013
Last night I attended the United States premiere of the documentary, “Surviving the Peace: Angola,” produced by MAG America. The film, created by the firm Media Storm, demonstrates the impact of landmines on Angola and MAG’s efforts to rid the country of this scourge. Through three characters: Eron, a former soldier and now a deminer; Minga, an eight year-old girl who had been injured by a mine three years before the film was made; and Minga’s grandmother who raises her, the film shows hope (in the form of Eron), but also the terrible toll landmines can take on individuals (Minga), their families (her grandmother) and communities. The filmmakers inter-cut scenes of Minga and her grandmother with scenes of Eron working in the minefields.
In the scenes with Minga and her grandmother, we watch as Minga learns to read and write despite having been blinded by a mine. We hear how Minga’s grandmother fears for Minga’s future (she tells Minga that one day Minga will be on her own and have to care for herself), but also how Minga’s grandmother has lost her livelihood having to look after Minga full-time. Minga tells us how she was injured: in an all-too-frequently-told-story, Minga came upon a “tuna can” in a field and poked it with a stick. For dramatic effect, the filmmakers have been showing scenes of explosive disposal as Minga talks, culminating with the detonation of several shells and landmines, just as she tells us she poked the can with a stick. We see the blast of the unexploded ordnance as we are forced to think of a five-year old girl setting off a landmine in a field.
The film is part of a new campaign by MAG America to raise US $100,000 to support mine-risk education in Angola to help prevent future injuries like those Minga experienced. In a brief segment of the film, we see MAG staff teaching a classroom of children from Minga’s village about the dangers of landmines and specifically using Minga’s experience as a cautionary tale.
Michael P. Moore
February 7, 2013