Fight Like Soldiers Die Like Children

“It’s not just a crime against humanity; it’s a sin.” (Roméo Dallaire)

When you have been to hell and back, how do you shake off the horrible memories? This question has haunted retired Lieutenant-General Roméo Dallaire since 1994, when he was the UN Force Commander during the Rwandan genocide and was forced to watch helplessly as the slaughter went on. He returned to Canada a disillusioned and shattered man. Still haunted by his memories, he has become a celebrated author and humanitarian, with a new mission: to bring his passion and dedication to ending the recruitment and use of children as soldiers around the world.

From director Patrick Reed (Guantanamo’s Child: Omar Khadr) comes this absorbing documentary which is partly based on Dallaire’s international bestseller They Fight Like Soldiers, They Die Like Children. It follows Dallaire on an unforgettable mission to some of the frontlines of Africa (Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan, in particular) meeting with recently demobilized child soldiers and their commanders, one soldier to another. Graphic Novel style animation interspersed throughout the film adds the first-person voice of a child soldier.

The subject of child soldiers has been explored in documentaries before. However, there is something uniquely compelling about Dallaire—his charisma, candor, and experience captivate an audience. This is a film about child soldiers, but with Dallaire as the entry-point: why he is consumed by this issue; what he has learned and is learning; and why, after all the horrors he has seen, he remains driven. Will Dallaire succeed where others have failed? Or will he once again be forced to look on as the world turns away?

“The politicians can posture, the columnists can prattle—the ex-general knows of what he speaks.” (Rick Groen, The Globe and Mail)

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