(Cinemateque Mentor, Raymond)
Loin d’être (far from being)
Les hommes avec des fusils est arrivé parmi les réfugiés. Les garçons ont pris la suite. Pour être des soldats. (Men with guns arrived among the refugees. The boys have taken over. To be soldiers).
Moise wanted to know if he could tell his story. He wants to show us his life. “Il pourrait faire une différence. Je ne sais pas.”
The United Nations’ peace-keeping force in the DRC is the largest peace-keeping force ever assembled by the UN. Yet it has not been effective at ending the war. Moise continues to be a survivor of that war and a refugee.
The camp he was hiding in was attacked. Moise does not know by who. To Moise, the people who commit this violence are all the same. I said the hell with this. Moise is in the Congo, currently fleeing rebel soldiers who happen to be from Rwanda (this makes them foreign soldiers but whatever) sending video via a Blackberry. Raymond can’t even post half of what Moise sends. Swinging dicks with guns.
How do I get Moise a computer and a camera. I don’t. Moise just disappears. He might anyway.
We need a new paradigm. One where we see the kid as someone who can tell his own story. We honor his voice.
I know. I know. The real world, right. Well, I don’t live in the real world so fuck off.
We need to be talking to Blackberry and Apple to GET REAL. Give me (yes, I said give) a smart phone I can send to someone like Moise. I was able to go through a field clinic with the Blackberry where Moise was recovering from his machete wounds.
They had no more pills anyway; so give the boy a Blackberry.
They cost a TON of money. No one wants to GIVE us much.
Sur la rivière (on the river)
Ces vidéos sont dangereux à faire. Je dois arrêter de les faire pendant quelques jours. (On the River. These videos are dangerous to do. I have to stop them for a few days).
The ongoing war and violence in the République Démocratique du Congo has caused the deaths of over five million people. This is now the deadliest conflict the world has seen since the end of the Second World War. Rape and machete mutilation has been used as a weapon of war against hundreds of thousands of women. Village women are typically gang raped and their genitals are then cut and mutilated. Some women survive. Some don’t. Moise’s mother did not survive the attack on Mitanda, the village where Moise lived for all of his eleven years.
Moise speaks some French. He has been as far away as Kinshasha (formerly French Léopoldville) with his father, now deceased. Moise contacted us through a clinic where he has been a patient.
The hardest thing I do is trying to decide how to protect any particular kid. I am not protecting kids by falling into the trap of we cannot discuss the hush hush. The tables are easily turned in any war. I am going through Moise’s video clips to see if there is anything I can convert into a still. It is difficult stuff to look at. I cannot imagine surviving it. He is not quite out of the woods yet. They can hear gunfire from the clinic.
refuge cage de bande errantes de soldats rebelles
Moise will be on the run again. He has not healed from his wounds yet, and the medical people suspect HIV in cases where multiple family members were raped (it’s a numbers game). HIV is now being used as one more weapon of war. Essentially the genocide of the War in Rwanda has simply spilled over into the DCR (never a beacon of stability) where it continues unabated. The legacy left by the Tutsis and the Hutus has been one of mass slaughter. The République Démocratique du Congo was the next logical place this conflict would leak into like a disease itself.
It continues to astound me that men and boys are being raped. Raping a boy will easily perforate his bowel, and he’s as good as dead, and we pretend it’s not happening. It is happening. Rape is being used as a mechanism to conduct biological warfare in the form of HIV. The war in République Démocratique du Congo is particularly vicious. I would argue that it is a crime against humanity to rape either men or women and use HIV as a biological weapon.
I was becoming a part of the problem. I was not going to tell you about Moise being gang raped in front of his family while they were forced to watch. Or be shot to death. They were shot to death anyway.
Moise was only hacked up with a machete. The rebels — they are actually Ugandan soldiers — must counting bullets.
Rape and HIV as a weapon of war.
Friends of Orphans: Healing the Wounds of War 2008 Harriet Tubman Reintegration Award Winner. Friends of Orphans (FRO) in northern Uganda is a lifeline for former child slaves who were abducted by the Lord's Resistance Army and forced to commit atrocities in their own communities. These former child soldiers have survived the unimaginable. FRO starts with the basic food and medical care before moving on to educational and vocational help.
République Démocratique du Congo
WARNING: Explicit Imagery and Colloquial Language
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS)
Tim Barrus: Director, Show Me Your Life
There will be many children on Show Me Your Life and some of them have very difficult stories to hear. But we must hear them and we will listen. Those of us involved in Show Me Your Life have been taken by surprise at the response from children and adolescents all around the world who express the idea that they would like very much to show us their lives and the manner in which they survive. And so they shall.
How do we ensure the safety of the children who participate in Show Me Your Life as they film how it is they live. There is no way they can be protected. They are simply out there in the middle of the tidal wave that is humanity. This is hard living. Usually, this stuff is filmed by documentary filmmakers. But not this time. These kids really do want to SHOW US THEIR LIVES. But are we really ready to look at what is going to be — is being — sent to us.
Many people at the World Health Organization (WHO) and other NGOs have heard about Show Me Your Life. The reason for this is because our MO of putting cameras in the hands of kids is almost revolutionary. Kids in schools everywhere have always created video. Not a new idea. But doing this with children who are directly involved in wars and children living on the streets has never been done the way we want to do it.
This is the child ripping off the veil of his own existence.
Tonight, we had some video come in from Moise who filmed a beheading (with machetes) in a Congo village. This is HIS life. The Congo is at war with itself. Five million people have perished in violence there. Raymond, Moise’s mentor, was shocked to his core. This time the less experienced boy is teaching the more experienced boy. The word experience implies a one-way street. Life is not like that. Real learning is an animal of some reciprocity. Raymond has decided to only show some stills. It is enough. The beheading is too horrific.
Raymond for Moise
This is for Moise who lives in the République démocratique du Congo. I am Raymond. I am your video mentor at The Studio. The video you have sent me is shocking. I have never seen a human being beheaded before. At first, I did not know what to say. I do not see how we can show a human being beheaded by soldiers. I am sorry. I am sorry you had to see this. I am sorry you are trying to run from these soldiers. Here is what I think we can do. I think I can try to get some still photography from this video. It is very dramatic. I will do that and we can still tell this story that you are fleeing soldiers, who are raping and killing people village to village. I am praying for you to live. You need to know that I will always tell you the truth. This project was designed for something less than this. But we need to know this is happening in your part of the world. That does not mean I know how to make what photographs we will come up with important. But I will try. Please be as safe as possible. I am in awe of your ability to survive this. Your friend, Raymond
Henry and Princess
Dear Moise, I live in America. I am nearly nine. I go to school. I think you are brave. I am sorry about all the very bad things. My sister is nearly seven, she thinks you need to leave there to be safe. I think may be you can't leave. We are thinking about you. Your friend Henry.
Dear Moise, I am seven. I live in America. I am not like you, because I have a home and I can eat vanilla ice-cream when I want to. My name is Princess. I think you should leave the Congo and go to a safe place. But I don’t know where is safe. I hope you get better soon.
The medical personnel who facilitated Moise in contacting us explained that Moise was the one forced to rape and kill his mother in front of the family. Then Moise was raped and cut which is why he sought medical attention. Moise was left for dead by the males (some were boys themselves) who committed this crime.
Moise died on in March 2011.
- a note from Tim Barrus (Director, Show Me Your Life; Founder, Cinemateque Films)
Raymond was mentoring the first student in Show Me Your Life, Moise, who was subject to a machete attack by Ugandan soldiers. Moise died from his wounds. He might have lived, but his HIV status rendered him at-risk for infection. There were no antibiotics available that might have been able to deal with the infections. Moise and Raymond did not manage to get much video out that went to Moise showing us his life. Moise's VideoArt spoke of soldiers who were raping women. I was the censor on that one and the images I deleted were of a young girl being raped by the same soldiers who would kill Moise.
And yet these images, difficult to look at, are part of the story of their lives.
Show Me Your Life is not a rendering of children into Disneyfied images that have no relationship to the reality of how most children live in the real world. That world is one of extraordinary bullying, warfare, sexwork, HIV, malaria, a workweek of eighty hours in a sweatshop, addiction, starvation, and abuse. None of these issues can be divorced from any of the others. This IS how children live their lives. I have grown weary of deleting scenes that might upset those who would erase us and our stories if they could.
Raymond was deeply affected by the death of Moise. I did not think we would end up with short-minute video clips that would give insight into how to make a video. That is not really what we do. We are struggling to tell children to show us their lives and then when they do the subsequent screaming of outrage by adults who should know better ensues.
I am learning, too. What is important to show. What is important to construct as metaphor. What is important not to show.
Show me your life.
Before he died, Moise disclosed. He had been raped repeatedly his entire life by soldiers from adjoining countries who continue to use HIV as a biological weapon of war. The United Nations estimates that the number of people who have died as a result of HIV/AIDS infection in the République Démocratique du Congo alone, to be in the millions.
“Sight without confronting the past” by © Carolyn Srygley-Moore
How can we see Africa without confronting the past.~~ Tim
Children murdered by soldiers in the Congo. One child.
You held his hand his camera held....a vision, gestating.
One sees the animism
one sees the transcendence the black, black skin
of which the whites were innately envious.
We are fashioned of school paste. I ask you
How do we stop writing of trauma when trauma
exists meteors of trauma
flesh entering the atmosphere of hatred of stupidity
entrails burning until the rock makes
its mark in the canyon.
I cannot see a piece of glass in any manner
as I once did a piece of wood
blood on a medicine man's doll: what is white magic
what is darkness called upon
as the gold skinned snake is called upon
mid-apocalypse ? My brother who traveled the 3rd world
extensively once said all who live in America are
spoiled. I wonder.
How does one speak of Africa indeed of life at all
without speaking of the past?
I peel my chalked skin
it does not make me weep the pain
my own pain is nothing.
I hear the voices of the damned
those damned by humanity
those tangled in the apparati of the penal colony.
I hear the voices of the damned
paired with flute violin brushes heaped with color
such are the voices of the damned
ripely coiling upward strangling tree strangling
what does not permit them to reach sky.
Moise is missed by his Show Me Your Life friends around the world.
"Cornered" by Jasha Arsov (Cinemateque Films, Russia)
I am always feeling cornered. By death. By the life that encircles me with walls and cubicles and boxes and the weight of history and the gravitas (translator’s word) of definitions and old dead bones. I feel trapped in languages and with Tim translating; Tim writing it down as we attempt to work together and bridge what is human to the two of us
— Tim, what does this mean please write it down I do not understand —
what death means and what life means now and me hearing but I do not know what anyone means anymore. Moise died. Why, Tim, why. And not from AIDS but from his infected machete wound so in the end it was AIDS that became a warzone. I know he felt trapped. By the virus that is violence. By his survival and running. By seeing his family killed like that. By soldiers on one side and soldiers on the other side.
This video is for Moise. I learned a lot from you.
Tim says learn one. Do one. Teach one. This is the doing.
I do not know what “Cornered” says. The video is my voice. The images themselves are only stories. Narratives like the Russian doll inside the doll inside the doll inside the smiling doll. It’s all a prison. We are imprisoned. We all have bars that keep us caged. I grew up disassembling all those dolls. Now, I only want to reconstruct them so I can understand what was actually on the inside.
It doesn’t really matter if Tim screws up with translations. It’s only important that we see what was on the inside of the doll is the doll. There are no answers to a Russian mystery. That is what HIV and AIDS are to most Russians. Another mystery and maybe it is not real. We suspect everything. To only reveal a litany of dolls that that are pulled from my bad dreams of being chased and scars and outer shells.
I told Moise he would have great scars when he healed. But then he said, “They will kill me.”
Yes. I have searched among the ragged sycamores.
I have pushed the memories away into the forgotten blue room.
The real war is to learn to cherish whatever moments we have whether we are running from a group of soldiers or escaping the prison inside the prison inside the prison’s walls.
It is all a trap.
There is no escape but one.
I do hope Moise found his.
**Cinemateque Films: Art Education: Students are allowed access to fair use art materials and mixed media in the teaching of iconic manipulation in photographic, video and film production. Representations and facsimiles are presented as teaching tools and instruments employed to instruct students in the techniques and application of mixed media art and collage. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act allows art-teaching entities the fair use of such materials in classroom and teaching-research applications.