We got our first written review. And it’s a good one!

I couldn’t be more thrilled. THANK YOU, JOEL ROZEN.

From The Sarasota Harald Tribune:


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Published Sunday, April 6, 2008 at 11:58 a.m.

It was hardly the study abroad experience their parents thought they were having.

“All God’s Children”

Directors: Scott Solary and Luci Westphal. 63 min. 3:30 p.m. April 6. Hollywood 20. A-

“There was no place to run, there was no place to hide,” says American Rich Darr, of his childhood in West Africa.

Growing up missionary kids in the 1960s, Darr and his siblings were exposed to a world of routine beatings, playground humiliation and sexual manipulation. They weren’t alone.

These, they allege in a sensitive new documentary by Scott Solary and Luci Westphal that premiered Saturday at the Sarasota Film Festival,, were among the horrors endured by countless students at Mamou Alliance Academy.

The parochial boarding school for missionary kids in Guinea had served as a sort of practical childcare system for members of the evangelical group Christian and Missionary Alliance (C&MA) during their time overseas.

Some kids were raped. Others whipped with belts until they bled. One woman recalls nights of fearing for her life.

For years, the abuse inflicted by Mamou educators and dorm staff was unknown even to parents. But decades later, as alumni began to uncover repressed trauma, many realized they were victims of a perverse educational system.

“All God’s Children” gives them the voice they claim they never had. Drawing from personal photographs, home movies, old Super-8 footage and a bevy of interviews with Mamou alumni, Solary and Westphal’s film is sad yet unflinching, and demonstrates what can happen when unsuspecting parents put too much faith in an institution. The tone of the film may be more than just cautionary, however: It could be humanitarian.

Mamou was shut down in 1971, but of the roughly 110 missionary boarding schools still in operation throughout the world, the film’s subjects cite 21 accused of similar acts of abuse. More troubling, while missionary school abuse may be endemic, legal action is seldom taken against those inflicting the pain. It certainly never was at Mamou — the C&MA still barely acknowledges the “psychological, physical and spiritual” abuse they once backed. (In one memorable scene, International Ministries Vice President Bob Fetherlin seems to grasp at straws for an explanation. “We were slower to act than we could’ve been,” he says. To this day, not a single Mamou staff member has faced any serious consequences.)

The strength of “All God’s Children” lies in the way it captures the emotional ripples cast by the abuse. At a post-screening Q&A attended by the filmmakers and six of their subjects, one viewer was particularly intrigued by the parents’ reactions when they learned about what had happened at Mamou.

“It was an ongoing grief for them,” said Diane Darr, Rich’s older sister and a also a victim. “And it still is.”

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