Movie Details

Compared frequently to Wim Wenders's Buena Vista Social Club (1998), the thoughtful and heartfelt documentary Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars (2005) combines the musical elements of that earlier work with a distinctly uplifting and optimistic sociopolitical undercurrent. The story begins in the early '90s with the eruption of the civil war that plagued the beleaguered West African nation of Sierra Leone -- displacing thousands in its wake. Among the dispossessed came six young indigenous musicians who decided to form a band and use music to heal the scars of their homeland. Those artists -- Francis "Franco" Lagba, Alhadji "Black Nature" Kamara, Reuben Koroma, Efuah Grace, Abdul Rahim "Arahim" Kamara, and Mohammed Bangura -- form the basis of an extraordinary story told by directors Banker White and Zach Niles in this film. The filmmakers follow the musicians on a heart-rending tour of the Leonean refugee camps, observe the recording session for their debut album, and unflinchingly witness the group's homecoming, several years after a bloody conflict tore the nation in half. Through it all, the group repeatedly demonstrates how music can become a vital instrument for social change. ~ Nathan Southern, Rovi