Friday, February 27, 2009 | Categories: Episodes
It's Friday February 27th.
A public inquiry into Prime Minister Brian Mulroney's dealings with German fugitive Karlheinz Schreiber is expected to cost a whopping $14 million by the time it's over
Currently, for some reason all the costs will be covered with envelopes stuffed with cash.
This is the Current.
Art vs Sensationalism - BBC Reporter
In a few weeks, a 74-year-old man named Josef Fritzl will stand trial in a courtroom in Austria. He stands accused of rape, slavery and incest, while holding his daughter captive for 24 years and fathering seven children with her. The heinous nature of the case has shocked the world. And it has inspired an Austrian actor named Hubsi Kramer to write a satirical play about it.
Earlier this week, "Penzion F" opened amidst tight security, sold out crowds and a storm of criticism and controversy. Bethany Bell was in the audience the night the play debuted. She's a BBC reporter based in Vienna, but she was in London, England this morning.
Art vs Sensationalism- Director
Now the theory is that there's no such thing as bad publicity. But Hubsi Kramer is putting that idea to a pretty severe test. He's the Director of Penzion F and an actor in it. And he was in Vienna.
Art vs Sensationalism - Polytechnique
Now here in Canada, we've watched horrifying events be made into films. There's the 2006 movie Karla, based on the crimes of Karla Homolka and Paul Bernardo.
And this year, the events surrounding the murder of 14 women at l'École Polytechnique in Montreal were turned into a feature film, called "Polytechnique." It was released in Quebec just a few weeks ago. It's shot entirely in black and white. And it shows how the tragedy unfolded, mostly from the point of view of the students.
Many people were concerned about such a controversial film. But the movie -- which was directed by Denis Villeneuve -- received largely favourable reviews although not from the Montreal Gazette's film critic, Brendan Kelly. We aired a clip with his opinion.
And for a rebuttal, we were joined by Don Carmody, the co-producer of Polytechnique. He's produced more than 80 films, including the hit musical "Chicago." And he was in Toronto.
Tthe film Polytechnique will open in Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary in three weeks.
We started this segment with a montage from the movie Lord of War starring Nicholas Cage ... a film based on the real life of legendary Russian gun runner, Viktor Bout. Viktor Bout is alleged to have sold arms to The Taliban, former Liberian President and accused war criminal Charles Taylor, the Colombian rebel group the FARC, as well as warlords in Angola and Sierra Leone. He was arrested in Thailand last year. And he's now awaiting extradition to the United States.
But the thing is, even with Viktor Bout out of the picture, the global trade in small arms is still flourishing. In part, that's because there are plenty of other people out there like Viktor Bout. But it's also because the developed world often doesn't do a very good job of keeping tabs on where its weapons end up.
A little while back, film-maker Shelley Saywell started digging around, looking for answers about the size and scope of the small arms trade. The result is a documentary called Running Guns: A Journey Into the Small Arms Trade. It will air on The History Channel this Sunday. And Shelley Saywell joined us in Toronto.
Artist: The Dears
CD: "Gang of Losers"
Cut: CD9 Whites Only Party
Label: Maple Music
Spine: MRCD 6459
Sierra Leone - Child Soldier Verdicts
Justice is coming slowly to Sierra Leone. But it is coming. In the 1990s, the country was gripped by an especially brutal civil war. Three groups -- The Armed Forces Revolutionary Council, The Civil Defence Force and The Revolutionary United Front -- all battled for control of the country and its lucrative diamond trade. Two million people were displaced. Tens of thousands were killed. And child soldiers as young as six were forced to pick up an AK-47 and fight.
When the war ended, the United Nations established the Special Court for Sierra Leone to prosecute the leaders of the main groups in the civil war. In 2007, the court delivered guilty verdicts for three of the leaders of the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council, and two leaders of the Civil Defence Force.
Earlier this week, the court convicted three leaders from the last group -- the Revolutionary United Front -- on multiple charges, including terrorism, murder, rape and sexual slavery. And for the first time, an international tribunal has recognized forced marriage as it's own, separate crime against humanity.
It's a brutal accounting of a horrifying period in Sierra Leone's history and one that Kabba Williams had the misfortune of witnessing from the front-lines. When he was six years old, he was forced into the life of a child soldier with the RUF. Today, he's a student and a human rights advocate. Freelancer producer Nina DeVries invited Kabba to share his story with The Current.
*** WARNING: We should warn you, some of what you're about to hear is extremely graphic. So those of you with small children might not want to listen.
As a child soldier, Kabba Williams lost four years of his childhood fighting with two sides of the Sierra Leone civil war. He eventually found help through UNICEF, after a chance encounter in the country's capital, Freetown. Today, he is a student and a human rights advocate who campaigns especially for former child soldiers. That story was produced by Nina DeVries and Dominic Girard.
Child Soldier Verdicts - Marie-Jo Proulx
As we mentioned, earlier this week the Special Court for Sierra Leone convicted three of the leaders of the Revolutionary United Front on multiple charges of terrorism, murder, rape and sexual slavery.
Marie-Jo Proulx was in the courtroom in Freetown when the verdicts were handed down. She's a Canadian who's working in Sierra Leone with Journalists for Human Rights.
Child Soldier Verdicts - Lawyer
Now this week's verdicts are clearly good news for the prosecution. But there's still one more hurdle to go ... the trial of former Liberian President Charles Taylor. And it turns out that trial may be in trouble. Stephen Rapp is the Chief Prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone and he was in Freetown.
Artist: Ray Montford
Cut: CD7 "Haunted"
CD: "The Early Sessions"
Label: Softail Records
Spine #: ES04CD
Last Word - Jerusalem
And don't forget ... The Current's Citizen Satire challenge is on. You've got until next Wednesday to submit your best stab at an opening satire for the program. Head to our web site -- cbc.ca/thecurrent -- for our guidelines on where to start.
We ended the program this week with a little preview of what's coming up next week. Anna Maria Tremonti will be back on Monday. She will be hosting the program from Jerusalem. As part of The Current's on-going series Watershed, Anna Maria will be bringing you stories about the ways water and politics intersect throughout the region.
But she'll also be delving into the ever-shifting politics of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And one of the stories she'll have is about a Palestinian Doctor named Izeldeen Abu Elish. The day before Israel's military attack on Gaza ended, he appeared live on Israeli Television and explained how three of his daughters and one of his nieces had just been killed in the assault. It became a defining moment in the conflict.
And for a small group of Canadian doctors, what made the story all the more painful is that they had been trying to find a way to get Doctor Elish and his family to Canada. They just ran out of time.