Through the eyes of Sierra Leonean filmmakers, Survivors presents a heart-connected portrait of their country during the Ebola outbreak, exposing the complexity of the epidemic and the socio-political turmoil that lies in its wake. Survivors chronicles the remarkable stories of Sierra Leoneans during what is now widely regarded as the most acute public health crisis of the modern era.
Survivors chronicles the stories of Sierra Leoneans whose lives were transformed by Ebola. Arthur Pratt, the filmmaker, acts as a guide as his production team shoots intimate observational footage of three characters, Mohamed Bangura, the senior ambulance driver at the country’s main emergency vehicle dispatch center; Foday Koroma, a 11-year-old boy living on the streets in one of Freetown’s slum neighborhoods and Margaret Kabba Sesay, a nurse who works in the intensive care unit at the Emergency Ebola treatment center in Freetown. Mohamed is a charismatic and complicated man, Mohamed often acts as a renegade, disobeying slow-moving bureaucratic protocol to fix problems more rapidly – and ultimately, more successfully – on his own terms. Through his story, we come to understand the power of individual everyday heroes in shaping the future of their community – and country, as a whole. Foday and his friends are young boys who live the streets. Despite the dangers of Ebola, they find their survival by scavenging for recyclables in the city dump. Arthur helps reunite Foday, now 12 years old, with his father. But Foday struggles to adjust to his new safer life -- he is now responsible for caring for his aging father and keeping up with the demands of school. A few months later Foday has dropped out of school and returned to the streets. Margaret Kabba Sesay has worked as a nurse in the countries only ICU from the outbreak’s earliest days, but a year later she still hasn’t told her family. She’s worries that they’ll force her out of the house. When Ebola is brought under control Margaret and the rest of her team are given dismissal papers. Outside, Margaret says, “I’m not sad to lose my job. It means I did my job well. Ebola is going away... I thank God for this.” In 2016, Sierra Leone is still trying to extinguish the embers of the disease. Life for most in the country goes on with many of the same challenges that existed before Ebola. When Foday returns to his father, he finds him dying. He cares for him for the last weeks of his life and they form a strong bond before he passes. Two days after his father’s funeral Foday sits on the stoop of what his now his small tin house. He looks out across Freetown and tells Arthur he feels lucky to be where he is now.