Hot Docs Review: The Redemption Of General Butt Naked [Strauss/Anastasion, 2011]

Toronto –  In the 1990’s, Liberia was in the middle of a brutal civil war. More than 250,000 people were killed between 1989 and 2003. There was no quarter or mercy between the warring factions. The ones who survived and thrived in this kind of environment were the ones who were the fiercest; and there was no one fiercer then the warlord Joshua Blahyi, a.k.a., General Butt Naked.

Joshua was originally a tribal priest. At age 11, he participated in his first human sacrifice. As a general, he earned his nickname because he would literally fight naked, wearing only shoes, and carrying only a machete and a gun. Being naked led him and his men to believe that he gained super powers, and was untouchable. He and his men committed atrocities that are jarring.

Then in the middle of the 1990’s, Joshua was paid a visit by a Christian priest. He later converted to Christianity and became a man of God. He would go on to seek out those whose lives he crushed to apologise. He was the first of the warlords to testify at the Liberian Truth & Reconciliation Commission, and admitted to being responsible for the deaths of at least 20,000 people.

This is an uncomfortable documentary to watch. It is very real. We live in a world where we glorify violence. It boggles the mind how accepted violence is in today’s media. This story is a powerful rebuttal that explores why real violence isn’t worth glorifying.

The Redemption Of General Butt Naked plays at Hot Docs on May 2nd, and May 7th.

Posted on by Mark in Hot Docs, Reviews