Sheffield Doc/Fest Review: Sing, Freetown

A planning session

In many ways the more recent history of Sierra Leonne is not so different to that of its neighbours. Its climate and habitat shielded it from conquest until the European colonisers arrived by sea. Perched on the west coast of Africa, several nations established trading posts until eventually the British created the settlement of the ‘Province of Freedom’, which later became Freetown. These ports were used to transport slaves captured from the interior of the continent.  

After gaining independence in 1961, Sierra Leonne had a short period of democracy, followed by unrest, a military coup, dictatorship and civil war. Today, the country is blighted by corruption and poverty, still dealing with the horrors of its past. Sorious Samura, an Emmy Award winning investigative journalist, wanted to put pride back in the republic He teams up with mentor and beloved playwright Charlie Haffner to create an inspirational work of national theatre. Their story is told in Sing, Freetown.

Sing, Freetown is a fascinating portrait of a troubled country through the eyes of two of its most famous sons. Clive Patterson’s documentary doesn’t offer any easy answers to the troubles faced by Sierra Leonians today. In the fractious relationship between its two stars, it does provide differing perspectives and challenges faced in moving forward. Sing, Freetown affords its audience an inside look at a country struggling to rediscover its identity.

Sing, Freetown premieres at Sheffield Doc/Fest on 11 June and will have a limited cinema release with an exclusive run at Picturehouse Central from 25 June.

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