Documentary filmmakers Kathy Berger and Ines Sommer offer a disturbing view on the diverse approaches to torturing prisoners around the world, with input from four radically different people that saw their bodies and emotions ravaged by extreme imprisonment.
Blama Massaquoi was kidnapped as a youth in Liberia to join the government’s army during the nation’s civil war – he was captured by rebels that forced him to drink a chemical substance that destroyed his esophagus. Physician Matilde de la Sierra worked with Guatemala’s Mayan population, which was viewed by the military as an act of subversion, while Colombia theater actor Hector Aristizabal was tortured in the 1980s by his country’s military for his political activities. The most striking story belongs to Donald Vance, a U.S. Navy veteran working as a civilian military contractor in Iraq – when he blew the whistle on suspicious money and weapons transactions, he was incarcerated at the American military’s Camp Cropper for three months.
The film follows each individual as they overcome the consequences of their respective tortures, relying on a network of emotional, artistic and legal support to help bring some degree of healing to their lives. This compelling nonfiction feature offers a sympathetic view of strong people that overcame merciless efforts to destroy their lives, and it provides a much-needed reminder that the issue of human rights is still highly relevant in today’s world.