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Rescued from Darkness

By Alan Ng | May 30, 2023

From Personally Catholic Films comes Rescued from Darkness, directed by Dan Tarrant, a documentary about God’s work the Catholic Church does during and after the Ugandan civil war through the Pope John Paul II School of Central Uganda. The story of the Pope John Paul II School is a harrowing one. It was opened in the midst of political turmoil in Uganda but was born from the heart of Pope John Paul II himself.

The church had a plot of land for the school that was squatted upon by Ugandan rebel forces. Their intimidating presence made it impossible to build the school. All the youth in the nearby villages had to make the difficult choice of joining the rebels or facing death. As the five-year civil war ended with President Yoweri Museveni’s election, the area was left devasted, which allowed the Catholic Church to start the school with important figures, including Father Joseph. The school faced several challenges from the start. The remaining rebels attacked the school, students, and staff, placing it and everyone there in a dangerous situation. Then there’s the lack of money.

“…work the Catholic Church does during and after the Ugandan civil war through the Pope John Paul II School…”

Rescued from Darkness documents the story of the school from its humble beginnings under the shared vision of the locals and the Catholic Church. This vision started with the belief that education is what children need to find hope in the future as adults. The church leaders and lay workers worked long hours for little money believing in the mission of the church to provide a solid education, meals, and uniforms for the children, as well as a safe space for growth.

As a documentary, this is standard. The film features talking head interviews from the school’s leaders, including Father Joseph and Sister Christine, video footage of the school and students in action, and quotes emphasizing Pope John Paul II’s vision to see this wartorn region of Africa flourish. I appreciate the attempts of the documentarian to reenact the rebel assaults upon the school and villages. It’s not exactly Hollywood-quality action sequences, so I will not judge it harshly. But, again, I appreciate the attempt to bring a bit of spice to the school’s story.

A simple documentary? Yes. But it tells an inspiring story of the Catholic Church trying to bring hope to a hopeless community devastated by war, military rule, and political corruption. If anything, documentaries like Rescued from Darkness make me realize the problems of my privileged life pale in comparison to the parts of the world we never think about. It’s about people with faith willing to put their comfort and lives on the line for the greater good. Yes, there are still people like this around the world.

For screening information, visit the Rescued from Darkness official website.

Rescued from Darkness (2023)

Directed and Written: Dan Tarrant

Starring: Father Joseph, Sister Christine, etc.

Movie score: 7/10

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