Hollywood loves a good action film. The Warner Bros. / Leonardo DiCaprio action film “Blood Diamond,” set in Sierra Leone during the civil war in the 1990s, is already generating Oscar buzz. But the film, like most of the international media, fails to reveal the true reasons behind the decade long civil war and instead perpetuates the demonization of the rebel forces.

An independent, award-winning documentary, “The Empire In Africa,” hopes to set the record straight when it opens in theatres on December 8 in New York, Los Angeles and Madison, WI.

Cinema Village
22 East 12th Street
New York, NY 10003

The documentary has been playing at film festivals around the world, beginning with its selection at the Critics’ Week at the Cannes Film Festival. It has garnered many awards, including Best Documentary at the African Film Festival in Montreal, Most Powerful Film Award at the One World Film Festival in Prague, the Grand Jury Award for Best Documentary at Slamdance and the Discovery Award for Best Documentary at the Hollywood Film Festival.

The story of Sierra Leone is typical of post-colonial Africa. The country is extremely rich in natural resources including diamonds, and has been exploited for decades by multi-national corporations, which in turn left the Sierra Leonean population one of the poorest in the world.

In 1991 the RUF, an indigenous rebel group, embarked on a campaign of "liberation" to free Sierra Leone from the yoke of foreign companies which had been in control of Sierra Leone resources for decades, creating crushing misery. As the RUF/SL anthem proclaims, ‘Every Sierra Leonean is fighting for his land/Our people are suffering without means of survival/All our minerals have gone to foreign lands.”

This revolutionary effort was cut short by western powers -- European, North-American and Australian – who launched massive attacks on the country to make sure that its natural resources wouldn’t escape their corporations. These western powers organized bombings of the country by importing heavy weaponry against a UN embargo and hired mercenaries to provoke counter-rebellion. The United Nations financed a deadly peace-keeping force that helped rig the elections and torture civilians by amputation, which they then blamed on the rebels.

“By not going further to reveal the truth about Sierra Leone, ‘Blood Diamond’ perpetuates the lies that have been plaguing Africa since colonial times,” says Diaz, who spent a month on the ground in Sierra Leone. “De Beers and all the other corporations involved in such atrocious activities cannot do it without the complicity of their respective governments, financial powers and military. In short, like in many other conflicts we are totally responsible for the tens of thousand of people who died during this fabricated civil war.”


Mary Keeler, 818-349-8822,  mkeeler@cinemalibrestudio.com
Beth Portello, (818) 349-8822,  bportello@cinemalibrestudio.com