Two Sierra Leonean filmmakers have been detained and face charges for producing a movie deemed offensive to the country’s two largest ethnic groups, a police spokesman confirmed to Politico on Friday.
The movie, titled: ‘Tribal War: Mende vs Temne’, was produced by the Empire Movie Production which is based in Bo in the south of the country. The producer and the director of the controversial movie were detained about three days ago, according to sources familiar with the situation.
A third member of the group, the Executive Producer, is said to be in hiding.
Ibrahim Kamara, Police Media and Communications Officer, told Politico that the men were set to be charged today [Friday March 11] after they had been investigated by the Criminal Investigations Department. He couldn’t say the exact charges they faced.
‘Tribal War’ depicts a story on the line of a dispute between rival families over a piece of land. The authorities say the movie has the tendency to provoke a war.
Earlier this week, the civic education group, the National Commission for Democracy (NCD), issued a statement condemning the film and calling for its banning.
“With due consideration given to the issues that the nation has been grappling with especially tribalism, regionalism, stereotyping, the civil war and its aftermath, NCD is persuaded to hold the view that the producers of this movie are insensitive to the negative potential and the far-reaching implications the content of the movie portends,” the Commission said in a statement.
According to sources, the film is in two parts. Only Part One has been released, which attracted the attention of State House which ordered the Office of National Security to investigate the matter.
The umbrella body of filmmakers in the country, the Sierra Leone Film Council (SLFC), has condemned the detention of the men and blamed the government for the situation.
SLFC National Coordinator, Arthur Pratt, told Politico that the film was based on historical facts, and that the statement from the NCD was made on the basis of a wrong reasoning.
Pratt said the government has refused to listen to the calls of filmmakers for there to be a body to govern filmmaking in the country. He said which such a body this situation wouldn’t have aroused.
“There is no way you can talk about Sierra Leone’s history without talking about war,” Pratt, who is also the head of the private filmmaking company ‘We Own TV’, he said.