“War Don Don”: what is it good for? The translation of the title of Rebecca Richman Cohen’s prismatic cinéma vérité documentary from its local language is “War is over”: a phrase that means less cessation of warfare than the advent of fraught peace: the time where justice may begin but, more likely, confusion begins. Given access to all sides of a war-crimes case over genocide, Cohen arrives at a stalemate more human, more the function of governments and systems than tidy. The real world is unruly. Justice is complex. In the case of Issa Sesay, brought to trial at the Special Court for Sierra Leone in central Freetown for the deadly events of the 1990s, the court asks, Champion for freedom and peacemaker? Or war criminal against the other side? We have to weigh the issues; no voiceover guides us in Cohen’s telling. The questions weigh brutally. Answers? Answers? 80m. (Ray Pride)
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor to Filmmaker magazine.
His history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” in words and images will be published in Spring 2022.