Documentary: Lifting a Curse


This 12-minute film was directed and produced by award-wining documentary filmmaker Jerry Rothwell. It  was made possible through a grant from Stories of Change, a project of the Sundance Institute supported by the Skoll Foundation.



Since the end of the civil war in 2002, there has been a rush to exploit Sierra Leone’s plentiful resources of iron ore, gold, diamonds, rutile and bauxite, and to use its fertile land for industrial agriculture. The potential investment could enable the people of Sierra Leone to break from poverty and underdevelopment.

However, the deals currently struck between government, corporations and communities are made in the context of a vast power imbalance. Land transactions are often made without consulting the families or communities concerned. This puts rural communities at risk of having their lands grabbed, their forests destroyed, and waters polluted by powerful interests, such as mining and agriculture companies.

This short film digs into the heart of the issues and shows how, with the support of community paralegals, a group of ordinary citizens were able to secure justice after a Chinese rubber company seized their land.