“Iron Ladies of Liberia” airs on KETC in April…Sneak Preview of Independent Lens Film at Missouri History Museum

Alex Detrick pulled together another fine evening last night at the Missouri History Museum, featuring Independent Lens film “Iron Ladies of Liberia” which will later air on KETC/Channel 9 April 6th at 11 p.m. Click here for video clip and political background on Liberia and the film.

Click here for 2005 Washington Post article written before Madame Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s election.

What I love about this film is how it shows the good news and bad news about Africa in one long shot, so we can see it more clearly, see it more whole. We see what’s hurting and we see the strength, the saavy, the fierce passion that comes to suture the wound, in the form of Madame Sirleaf and her team, heavily weighted with women of substance, of grace, of capacity.

Madame Ellen Johnson Sirleaf focuses on the practical, and her experience as an economist holds her in good stead. But she knows her culture. She knows her people. She knows her role. She dresses for each occasion with the scarf of authority over her shoulder and she looks gorgeous at whatever age, in this case in her latter 60s.

She shifts to suit the occasion. She’s a great communicator. She can speak Pigeon English with the workers at the Firestone rubber plantation. She can tell them the truth, a rare commodity in any political situation: what the government can do and what it cannot do. She can negotiate with heads of delegation and heads of companies speaking perfectly groomed educated English, but speaking it so clearly, without jargon, that no one good possibly miss her meaning as she lobbies for the rights of Liberians…as she struggles for the very life of her country and country people.

This is a portrait of a country ripped by too many years of civil war…and a portrait of a woman who has the heart of a lioness on the broad African veld, ready to hunt to save her pride of cubs.

My favorite scene in the movie shows Madame Sirleaf talking with the soldiers about back pay. First, she is the understanding Old Ma, nodding, listening, receptive. Then, she shifts, nobody’s fool, not letting those on the other side of the table that she is in charge here…and she is firmly on the side of the villagers. Solomon in all his glory could have done no better than Madame Sirleaf.

Anyone who loves Africa…anyone who understands the special ties that America has with Liberia (founded as it was by freed slaves)…anyone who prays for peace and reconciliation…anyone interested in the process of resolving conflict and creating a culture of trust and inclusion in the face of daunting obstacles….anyone who loves courage and justice…in short, anyone with a beating heart and a thinking brain should see this film.


Daniel Junge was named by Filmmaker magazine as one of 25 up-and-coming filmmakers in 2003. Junge had his feature-length directorial debut with Chiefs, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival, where it won the award for Best Documentary, and subsequently received national airing on PBS. He also won four regional Emmy’s for Common Good (2005), a six-part series on social entrepreneurs.

Co-Director Siatta Scott-Johnson was born in Buchanan, Liberia, 1974, and raised in rural Grand Bassa County. She has five years of experience as a reporter and producer at DCTV, one of Liberia’s few broadcast television stations, and is a founding member of Omuahtee Africa Media.

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One Comment

  1. Thanks for bringing the “Iron Ladies of Liberia” film to our attention. I recently watched a documentory by a Kenyan woman who suffers crippling psychological depression because of her forced circumcism. Only by speaking out and advocating for change was she able to move on. My favorite films are always the Indies that I watch on Link-TV, a “television without borders” that I found on my satelite television way down in the big numbers section where they hide the intelligent programing.

    Watching intelligent TV is an antidote for the overwhelming overload of the electronic age. I seem to need to process my past in order to cope. My inspirational autobiography, Ordinary Aphrodite, is my attempt to move foreward by lining my “past-ducks” in orderly rows. If wars are won by studying history, then female power is created by understanding our sisters in other cultures and celebrating our commonality. I never watch a powerful Indie movie about women without feeling stronger, safer and more blessed.

    Thanks for reminding me!

    Anne Schroeder

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