Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS
July 29th, 2008
Lord's Children
Audio: Filmmaker Notes

An interview with filmmaker Oliver Stoltz about the making of Lord’s Children.

Sorry, this video is not available.

OLIVER STOLTZ:
My name is Oliver Stoltz. I’m a German filmmaker and producer, writer, and director of Lord’s Children, together with my partner, Ali Samadi Ahadi.

WIDE ANGLE:
Can you talk about how you came to this film, and what interested you about it?

OLIVER STOLTZ:
When I lived in Los Angeles, I stumbled on the internet over a study of the U.N. about the fate of children in Northern Uganda. And it was interviews of children who have been abducted and had been forced to kill, and I never heard about his before. I was looking for more information, and was going after this whole situation in northern Uganda, trying to understand it. My idea was a fiction project, a feature film, but then the next coincidence came when I met my directing partner Ali Samadi Ahadi. And we found out that he too as a child was involved in war. We both were very early on in conflict zones, me in Namibia, southwest Africa before independence, when there was also a rebel war going on. And my partner was forced into the Iranian army during the first Iran-Iraq war, and had to flee Iran in order not to be killed in a minefield. They used children at that time to clear minefields.

What happens if you’ve been made into a murderer, and you’ve been made to do something, which is hard to realize even for a grownup. As a child, how do you live after this? How do you cope with what you’ve been through? And we started investigating about trauma theory, met people and investigated different conflicts that involved child soldiers.

WIDE ANGLE
:
How did you gain access to these camps?

OLIVER STOLTZ:
We got access to the rehabilitation camps in northern Uganda through the Catholic Church in northern Uganda. They helped us because they were running through the organization Caritas, they were running a camp right in the epicenter of the war, which was created out of children who returned and said, ‘here we are and that’s where we want to be treated’. And so the Church started to build a center around these children. We went where other people feared to go and that’s how we got access.

WIDE ANGLE:
So, what were the obstacles of filming in a war zone? Was the camp ever attacked?

OLIVER STOLTZ:
The camp was attacked almost every two, three months. The obstacles were on one side the rebel attacks in the whole area that traveled to the war zone. There were on a daily basis attacks on the street. On the other side, it was the government that prevented journalists, people they couldn’t control, from going into areas where they couldn’t control them. So that’s why we decided to shoot without shooting permission and with small equipment. The biggest fear we had was traveling into, going to the rehabilitation center in Pajule, and making those moves to other places. It looks like, in the film, this is just an easy drive but this was like playing lotto with our lives. Because there were attacks on the street everyday.

WIDE ANGLE:
How long did you follow these children?

OLIVER STOLTZ:
We followed them over a course of six to eight months. We traveled four times to see their development.

WIDE ANGLE:
Can these children be rehabilitated and reintegrated?

OLIVER STOLTZ:
Oh, absolutely. I’ve seen it myself. There is something in us human beings, no matter how awful life has been treating you, especially in children, and you can never destroy hope. All these children — they’ve been raped, they’ve been forced to kill, they’ve witnessed killings. All of us grown ups would break and would be traumatized for life. But those children, they have different ways of coping with it. But what kept them going was hope for a better life. And you can work with this hope, and this is what those social workers do. All you need to give them is opportunities, instead of stigmatizing them and keeping them separate, you have to get them back into society, give them an education. That’s the main thing everyone wants. To be some way of supporting themselves and making a living. They’re still outsiders, and the only thing those children have learned for a long time is killing, so you need to give them other tools.

WIDE ANGLE:
We’ve spoken to a few psychologists who have said the community that they return to and the way that they are accepted are so vital to their reintegration and rehabilitation. Did you find that?

OLIVER STOLTZ:
Yeah. It is. The boy that best coped with the whole thing was Francis. Because he had a very loving family that really took care of him. He now has a scholarship. He’s really on his way to maybe even go to university. Kilama, the other boy, the family wasn’t there. No one is really being a guide for him. I try to do what I could from Germany on the phone, but you can’t be a parent on a long distance phone line. I think your trauma therapists are right. It’s love, acceptance and coming back to a society that is not stigmatizing you and having an opportunity in life.

WIDE ANGLE:
What is one moment or one experience that stays with you from making the film?

OLIVER STOLTZ:
The place where we stayed in the rehabilitation center was a few weeks before we came it was attacked by rebels. And Francis was one of those rebels who attacked the place where he fled to later on. So he described to me how he was going after the priest, the same priest that was there who was our host in this place. And how he was trying to find cookies, and where he was looking, and it’s the same kind of place where every night we shut iron doors and hope that no one was attacking us.

WIDE ANGLE:
OK, well one last question, this film was shot in 2003 and 2004. Have you followed up with these children in the last four or five years?

OLIVER STOLTZ
:
We paid for their education after we finished filming until they are on their own legs. So Kilama went to high school for two years, he dropped out. He started his own business. He has a wife now, he is like selling soap and beer and small things and we gave him starting money for that. Francis is still going to school. Jennifer got into sewing school and then we bought her a sewing machine. Everything fell into a fire so we gave her more money to start up again. She’s still together with her husband. She got a little boy, she named him Ali after my partner.

WIDE ANGLE:
Thank you, Oliver.

OLIVER STOLTZ
:
Thank you very much.

Produced by THIRTEEN    ©2014 WNET.ORG Properties LLC. All rights reserved.