LIBERIA: What if your father turned out to be very different than you think he is?
Bianca-Olivia Nita
Bianca is a freelance journalist and documentary critic. She is a regular contributor to Modern Times Review.
Published date: April 4, 2019

When she was just a child, Clarice and her siblings moved to The Netherlands because their home country of Liberia became too unstable and unsafe to live in. Their father, a man named Martin Gargard, stayed behind. Clarice grew up seeing him every now and then, when he visited the family in The Netherlands. She always loved him and was always a «daddy’s girl», but deep inside she always wondered what his work back in Liberia, during its two civil wars, was about. Daddy and the Warlord is a mesmerizing and very personal journey, following Clarice in an increasingly tense search to find the truth and to understand who her beloved father actually is and was.

A Mystery Game

The film feels like an emotional and cinematic version of a mystery game, the kind where players enter different rooms and spaces and asks questions, the sum of which lead them to a new realm. This is what happens to Clarice, her reality gradually changes as she meets different people, asking them what they know about her father and his role during the civil wars.

Daddy and the Warlord. Director(s): Shamira Raphaëla

The scenes of her encounters are mixed with close ups of black skin and body details of black people, their memories of war narrated in voiceover. These images feel surreal and the people’s voices are at times just whispers. Their words go deep. Each story feels imprinted on their bodies and in their minds, as each memory is linked to intense emotion, sound or sensation. Their sum is the mosaic of pain left behind by war.

The story of the Liberian Civil Wars is complicated, connected to the country’s tribal and ethnic structure, and also to its past. Liberia was founded by freed African-American slaves in the early 1800s, but the indigenous never reconciled with the newcomers.

The film feels like an emotional and cinematic version of a mystery game

The country was under the rule of these Americo-Liberian colonizers until the 80’s, when Samuel Doe took charge by killing the serving American-descended president. The first war began in 1989 when Charles Taylor, a man whose father was Americo-Liberian and mother indigenous …

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