Pray the Devil Back to Hell

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Opens Friday, Nov. 7 (Balcony Releasing)

Gini Reticker’s documentary tells a story that would be nearly impossible to believe were it not true. An inspiring account of the successful efforts of a coalition of thousands of Christian and Muslim women to bring peace to their native Liberia, “Pray the Devil Back to Hell” is powerful enough to make even the most cynical believe in the ability of ordinary people to induce political change.

The poor African country had been led for a decade by the corrupt president, Charles Taylor, whose ragtag military was engaged in a constant civil war with rebels that resulted in the widespread slaughter and rape of civilians.

Finally, in 2003, many of the country’s women decided to take action to stop the bloodshed, engaging in a series of nonviolent acts of protest that even included -- in true “Lysistrata” fashion -- denying their men sex until the violence stopped.

Their efforts led to a peace summit between the two sides, during which they physically prevented the delegates from leaving the table until an agreement had been signed. Ultimately, Taylor was exiled and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf became the first female head of state of an African country.

Combining archival footage with illuminating interviews with many of the principals involved, “Pray the Devil Back to Hell” relates a powerful story with intelligence, concision and a minimum of distracting stylistic flourishes.

Director: Gini Reticker.
Writer: Sara Lukinson.
Producer: Abigail E. Disney.
Director of photography: Kirsten Johnson.
Production designer: Norval Johnson.
Music: Blake Leyh.
Editor: Kate Taverna.
No rating, 72 min.

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