THEATRE OF VIOLENCE
Emil Langballe, Lukasz Konopa / Denmark, Germany / 2023 / 104 min / World Premiere
An epic and unshakeable drama of guilt and punishment. Former Ugandan child soldier Dominic Ongwen is both executioner and victim in a sober courtroom drama about crimes against humanity that upends on the very foundations of morality.
Dominic Ongwen was just nine years old when the Lord Resistance Army terrorist group abducted him and killed his parents. Joseph Kony’s guerrilla group then tortured, brainwashed and forced the boy to kill others. Thirty years later, Ongwen surrendered to the authorities and now stands accused of crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, the first former child soldier ever to do so. The charges range from murder and rape to torture and slavery. But can the adult man be separated from his traumatic past when it comes to sentencing? Director Lukasz Konopa and Emil Langballe soberly and convincingly portray both sides of the immensely complex case, following lawyer Krispus Ayena as he prepares Ongwen’s defence. ‘Theatre of Violence’ confronts us with fundamental questions of guilt and punishment, and of how modern society should deal with the traumas of the past. A monumental film of wide-reaching consequences.