A Haunting History

Lawyer Anuol Deng (30), who studied in England returns to his homeland South Sudan with a dream to help build his nation. A new country where everyone will have the right to justice. While building up his law-firm and resettling into daily life, he suddenly has to flee the same bullets that chased him as a little boy, as a new bloody civil war breaks out. It’s a painful and frustrating journey, as the law doesn’t seem to apply to this lawless society.

The film starts in England, where Anuol lived many years and obtained his law degree. When South Sudan becomes independent, he goes back with the aim to bring change and justice. Resettling in South Sudan is a challenge for westernized Anuol. He finds everything very primitive and traumatic memories of his past are haunting him. In short flashbacks, Anuol takes us back to the time he was a child and survived a massacre. Since South Sudan’s independence business is booming in the capital Juba. The atmosphere is positive and hopeful. On the second Independence Day, people parade, dance and wave flags in the city. Anuol’s best friend and cousin Peter helps him to settle and they visit the places where they grew up. Their discussions on local customs, traditional marriage and family duties often end up in clashes between tradition and modernity. When they join a traditional court hearing with local chiefs under a tree, Anuol is astonished about their primitive approach and poor knowledge on law. At the same time Anuol is intrigued and sees an important role for himself. He can share his knowledge of law with these local chiefs and build their capacity. (Five months later) Mid-December 2013 gunfights break out only a few hundred yards from Anuol’s family house. What starts as a power struggle between the government army and a rebel militia quickly develops into a new bloody ethnic war. 1.5 million people become displaced. Anuol and his family take refuge in Uganda, just like 23 years ago. Encountered with the empty gaze of a young refugee boy, Anuol’s relives the Bor massacre he survived as a child. When parts of South Sudan stabilize Anuol decides to return home. He also visits his birth town Bor where he witnesses the destruction that took place once again. Partly out of feelings of survivors guilt, Anuol strongly feels he needs to deliver something worthy to deserve the life-saving chances he got. As a lawyer he wants to bring the human rights violators to justice. It’s a painful and frustrating journey, as the international legal principles of Anuol’s education don’t apply to this lawless society. When he returns to the rural area of Bor, where he joins again a local court and sits under the tree with the tribal chiefs, he realizes that training these local chiefs would mean he would bring justice to the local communities, the communities that need justice and reconciliation the most. With new ideas to fullfil his dream to help the vulnerable people and bring justice to the country Anuol returns to his home in Juba. Will Anuol be able to overcome all the challenges and walk a positive path towards his future in South Sudan? A haunting history is an 80-minute HD documentary about resettling, war trauma’s, sacrifices, reconciliation and friendship. The documentary will be ready at the end of 2015.

Production team