Located in Western Africa, Sierra Leone is a nation caught in a struggle between extreme poverty and extreme wealth; while diamond mining provides the bulk of the country’s income, most of its people struggle to survive by raising their own crops.
In 1991, a civil war broke out in Sierra Leone, with a rebel group called the Revolutionary United Front taking on government forces in a bid for a more just economy and an end to hunger. However, the forces behind Sierra Leone’s mining interests were more interested in protecting their investments than changing the economy, and both the nation’s military and the RUF fell into indiscriminate violence against all parties involved.
In all, 70,000 people lost their lives in the nearly 15 years of fighting, while millions lost their homes and many thousands were maimed. Filmmaker Philippe Diaz took a camera crew into Sierra Leone in the midst of the fighting to document the bloodshed and tell the story behind the brutality; The Empire in Africa is the result, which incorporates interviews with politicians and military figures with footage of the mayhem. The Empire in Africa received its North American premiere at the 2006 Slamdance Film Festival.