Dominic Ongwen is the first former child soldier prosecuted by the International Criminal Court (ICC). Theatre of Violence follows Ongwen’s lawyer and his team as they investigate, build a defence strategy, and try to answer the central question: how do we define “justice” when the perpetrator is also a victim?
Theatre of Violence
Ugandan lawyer Krispus Ayena has been assigned to the most prominent case of his career: defending the first former child soldier to be prosecuted by the International Criminal Court (ICC). Dominic Ongwen was only 9 years old when he was abducted on his way to school, as were an estimated more than 20,000 other children, by Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). Intimidated and indoctrinated, he quickly learned to kill or be killed. Theatre of Violence follows Ayena and his team as they prepare for Ongwen’s defence - asking vital questions in an unfolding debate on what accountability entails when someone is both victim and perpetrator; and grappling with the underlying issue of what justice looks like when being conducted in an international court, far away from key cultural and historical context. The film asks - is the ICC imposing a new form of colonialism on Uganda?
“Visually, it’s beautiful. The issues are presented in a very nuanced way which is rare for Western-made productions about the LRA war and the conflict in Uganda - centering Acholi voices, juxtaposing Ongwen’s trial with what is happening in Uganda today, and posing important questions about the relevance of the ICC.”
- Oryem Nyeko, Uganda and Tanzania Researcher, Human Rights Watch