Newton I. Aduaka’s second feature dramatizes the abduction of child soldiers in Africa. A series of flashbacks show the titular protagonist’s (Mamodou Turay Kamara) journey into and out of a corrupt rebel army. Ezra, kidnapped from school at age six, has his psyche stripped bare over the next ten years, culminating in an amphetamine-fueled attack on his hometown. The film’s tensest scenes follow Ezra and his companions — his determined sister (Mariame N’Diaye) and pregnant girlfriend (Mamusu Kallon) — as they flee the rebels through hushed jungles. With the camera bound to this frail trio, every dark corner of the landscape hides potential violence and destruction.
A Truth and Reconciliation Committee, assembled for communal healing, initiates the flashbacks to these traumatic episodes. As Ezra confronts his past, at his sister’s insistence, the film addresses the process of rehabilitation for war-torn communities. For viewers in a nation at war whose re-integration programs are inadequate, Ezra’s treatment of soldiers’ psychology may emerge as its most poignant strength.
Opens February 13 at Film Forum