General Butt Naked

Discussion in 'DPx Hostile Environment Survival Tools' started by RYP, Jan 22, 2011.

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  1. RYP

    RYP

    820
    Jul 11, 2009
    My buddy Eric Strauss did this film after reading about Butt Naked in my DP book. We did that Nat Geo Iraq PMC film together.

    http://theenvelope.latimes.com/la-et-su ... 4635.story

    Sundance Film Festival: 'The Redemption of General Butt Naked'
    The documentary follows a brutal Liberian warlord who becomes a Christian preacher and asks forgiveness for his crimes.


    "The Redemption of General Butt Naked" tells the incredible true story of Joshua Milton Blahyi - aka General Butt Naked - a brutal warlord who murdered thousands during Liberia's horrific 14-year civil war. Today, the General has renounced his violent past and reinvented himself as Evangelist Joshua Milton Blahyi. (Sundance Film Festival)


    By Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times Film Critic
    January 22, 2011

    Reporting from Park City, Utah — If character truly is destiny, what does that say about the mind-warping trajectory of the charismatic evangelical Christian preacher Joshua Milton Blahyi, once known as General Butt Naked?

    That name may sound silly, but it's not a joke to those who survived Liberia's 14-year civil war — or the tens of thousands who didn't.

    A stark naked warlord in that struggle, a man who has admitted to killing thousands of people and doing unspeakable things during the 1989-2003 conflict, Blahyi is still so well-known in the country that, says filmmaker Daniele Anastasion, "when he walks through the airport in Monrovia you can hear it around you, 'that's Butt Naked.' People still fear him."

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    Co-directed by Eric Strauss and Anastasion, "The Redemption of General Butt Naked," which premieres Saturday at the Sundance Film Festival and does not yet have distribution, is a compelling portrait of an extraordinarily complex personal odyssey, a film that explores both the power and the limitations of faith and forgiveness. "There are so many larger-than-life aspects here," says Strauss, "that if anyone had written it as a feature script it would have sounded absurd."

    Blahyi's story is so unusual, and his personality so strong and vibrant, that the filmmakers found — as Anastasion put it — "it was challenging to keep track of yourself, of your own reactions. He can be warm but then you remember what he did in the past. In the course of a day our opinion of him would change, we tried to keep track of each other, of where we each were. It messes with your head a little bit."

    The filmmakers, both in their 30s, began working together at the National Geographic channel. The project started when Strauss came across a mention of Blahyi in a book called "The World's Most Dangerous Places."

    "It was just a tiny blurb about a notorious warlord who had killed thousands and was now walking the streets preaching truth and reconciliation," he remembers. "I wondered, 'Could someone like this really exist?'"

    Adds Anastasion: "Was a transformation this extreme even possible? And how would that play out in the real world?"

    Filming the answers to that, partially due to inevitable funding difficulties, took the team a very long five years. Yet, says Strauss, as it turned out, "it's a far better film because of the struggles we had."

    For one thing, during that period Blahyi agreed to admit his crimes before Liberia's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, something few warlords agreed to do, and the consequences of that testimony were ones even he did not anticipate. That five-year period also allowed the filmmakers to interview many of the people critical to Blahyi's story.

    These include preacher John Kun Kun, the man who started the general's conversion process by boldly coming to talk to him and insisting that God had a plan for him. Then there's a former child soldier, nicknamed Senegalese, Blahyi's second in command, who was the victim of one of his horrible acts of violence, an act directly related to Kun's visit.

    The filmmakers met Senegalese because Blahyi regularly seeks out people he has savagely wronged and asks for their forgiveness. "He genuinely puts himself out there, he doesn't have to put himself in these uncomfortable situations," says Strauss. "He literally runs into victims or families of victims on a daily basis."

    One of the most unnerving things the filmmakers discovered is that for Blahyi there was always a spiritual dimension to his actions, even when he was killing. Having served as a priest for the Krahn people, he felt he was fighting for this tribe and, says Strauss, "he was a deeply spiritually motivated person, and the persona of General Butt Naked came out of a traditional belief system. He says his god told him nudity would make him invincible to bullets, and when people saw him they felt it must be true, that he was protected. He went to bed at night and thought he was a hero."

    This transformational story has so many aspects to it that the filmmakers have intentionally not tied it up into a neat package. "This is such a story that can easily veer into black and white, an easy story to make overwrought," says Anastasion. "We didn't want to fall into the trap of taking a stance on Joshua. We wanted viewers to decide, to let the audience absorb the material. There needs to be an appetite for complexity."

    [email protected]
    Copyright © 2011, The Los Angeles Times
     
  2. B Griffin

    B Griffin Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 22, 2007
    Intriguing story. BTW, the link says page not found.
     
  3. Mattohn

    Mattohn

    187
    Aug 15, 2010
    i got a "server is temp. unavailable" message
     
  4. 333rm

    333rm

    Oct 17, 2009
    Interesting story! I couldn't help but think of the movie Blood Diamond with the characters portrayed and shown throughout the movie. As well as the mass genocide that went along with it.
     
  5. RYP

    RYP

    820
    Jul 11, 2009
    Blood Diamond reminded me of my friend Cobus Classen, a blonde haired, goateed, wise cracking ex EO operator. In fact he was there for some of the filming in Mozambique. Good movie, a little heavy on the "message" and of course we all know everyone would shoot the poor guy and take his diamond... :))
     
  6. Handwrecker

    Handwrecker

    May 4, 2010
    I really would like to see your friends film, hopefully he'll find distribution. I can only imagine how grim a portrait it'll paint.

    If you guys have an hour to kill, you may find this as interesting as I did. It goes into a lot of the cannibalism, child sacrifice, drug use, and murder that took place during Liberia's civil war. The second half is primarily about Buttnaked and his rebirth. Wild, wild stuff.

    http://www.vbs.tv/watch/the-vice-guide-to-travel/the-vice-guide-to-liberia
     
  7. B Griffin

    B Griffin Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 22, 2007
    Those two links worked fine thanks. It will be an interesting story to see.
     
  8. RYP

    RYP

    820
    Jul 11, 2009
  9. Handwrecker

    Handwrecker

    May 4, 2010
  10. caine

    caine

    Nov 9, 2003
    Looks good I will be looking for it
     
  11. 333rm

    333rm

    Oct 17, 2009
    Cobus is one hard core operator. Last I had heard he's been running his own PMC in Africa and is doing pretty good. I've never met him but I do know quite a bit about him. He's a true war horse.
     
  12. RYP

    RYP

    820
    Jul 11, 2009
  13. Mattohn

    Mattohn

    187
    Aug 15, 2010
    i hope our knives are not to be designed to be sharpened like that guy at 0:46 on that Liberia video ;)
     
  14. freedoom

    freedoom

    Jan 31, 2010
    I can't think of a better field sharpener than a concrete step :D
     
  15. cosmophonic12

    cosmophonic12

    720
    Jan 2, 2009
    HW, you beat me to the punch. I saw the VBS documentary too!
     
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