We saw a screening of The Uncondemned at the Jewish Heritage Museum, dealing with the first prosecution of rape as war crime. Read the review below.
The Uncondemned is not a complicated film. Produced by Film at Eleven Media and co-directed by Michele Mitchell and Nick Louvel, The Uncondemned sets out to do one thing: explain exactly how rape became a war crime and an act of genocide. That’s all. But viewers quickly realize it’s a convoluted and messy story. It’s a story that doesn’t initially seem ripe for a documentary. War crimes are some of the most difficult to prosecute in all of law, especially when speaking about rape, which often devolves into outright silence of victims accentuated by the unreliable and unaccountable nature of international law. To make a publicly released film on this subject, deft understanding of the laws and situation were essential, paired with an expertise on how to simply explain everything.
Fortunately, The Uncondemned succeeds in its mission. It takes a little intuition, but viewers can reasonably grasp the ideas and grand complications that face a prosecutor when dealing with war crimes. The film never had an overtly ‘feminist’ tone as pop culture would have it today, which then would certainly send the film running the risk of seeming preachy and off-putting. Rather, the film stayed the legal route, but allowed the importance of prosecuting and voice to be heard, on both accounts.
The voice comes from three women who seemed to know each other. In the case of Rwandan genocide, they were model demonstrations of what was barring them from coming forward: the culture demands no one speak of their bodies. The culture says to stay strong. The culture says to keep it to yourself. It took a woman who was dismissed from the court to bring this truth to light, resulting in her critical reappearance in the film. Again, here there is a touch of feminism that allows feminist theory to have a real case-study to work with. The proof that feminist thought absolutely has a place in something as brute as a war crime.
The film is heavy and intellectual, but the team that actually prosecuted the case appears in full and provide a humor and relief that could only be appropriate coming from the people actually involved in the case. They’re young, smart, energetic and their closeness and understanding makes viewers feel clued-in and well informed. It never felt like a documentary, but the legacy and truth lives on.
For screenings: http://www.theuncondemned.com/story/
‘The Uncondemned’ (2016): Run time: 1 hour, 25 minutes.
OPENS THEATRICALLY OCTOBER 21, 2016