SIERRA LEONE: Solomon Juxton-Smith is working in a supermarket in New York, resembling perhaps any middle-class American. But before this life he had another. He lived in Sierra Leone and his father was the ruler of the country.
Bianca-Olivia Nita
Bianca is a freelance journalist and documentary critic. She is a regular contributor to Modern Times Review.
Published date: March 23, 2019

As we go about our daily lives, we pass-by hundreds, if not thousands, of people every day –people we don’t know, complete strangers. We play formal roles in each other’s’ lives, under the cover of relative anonymity. We recognise the mailman, we have seen the woman selling train tickets many times, and every day there is a stranger sitting next to us on the bus. But what do we really get to know about these people? How much of their past that we are not acquainted with makes up who they are? And how many extraordinary stories do we miss every single day when we pass by the people who are not meant to really enter our lives?

Andreas Hadijpateras’ film A Forgotten Past, which screened at the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival this March, leaves you with all these questions after its main character – who looks like any middle-aged American – tells his story. Now a family father working in a supermarket in New York, but before this life, he had another. He lived in Sierra Leone. And his father was the ruler of the country.

Narrating his family’s forgotten past

The film combines archive footage and interviews with family members and people who knew the now deceased Andrew Juxon-Smith ­– a politician and military official who acted as Head of the State of Sierra Leone in the 1960s. But what truly ties everything together is the cursive and …

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