The experiences recounted by the title characters in Grace, Millie, Lucy…Child Solders are the sort that most of us have only heard about courtesy of New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof. Raymond Provencher’s exploration of the lives of three young women dragooned into a Ugandan rebel movement contains plenty of redemptive moments, but in the end, it’s a jarring reminder of just how broken the Horn of Africa is. While technically proficient—shots of burning settlements and stunning grassland vistas dot the film—Provencher’s film doesn’t take any risks. But then, it doesn’t need to—the stories of Grace Akallo, Milly Auma, and Lucy Lanyero are haunting in their simplicity. Northern Uganda is terrorized by the Lord’s Resistance Army, an anti-government militia that swells its ranks by raiding villages, kidnapping children as young as 5 and forcing them into combat. By the film’s estimate, the LRA has conscripted more than 30,000 children into its militia, 30 percent of whom are female. And for the girls, this hellish life only begins with paramilitary service. Milly and Lucy, abducted at 9, escaped in their midteens with several children in tow. But even after returning to their families and finding partners, they still feel the effects of their violent years. Grace is a different story. She escaped the LRA after only a few months and eventually made it to an American college. Hers is the only English-speaking voice heard, and she uses it quite eloquently to serve as a kind of unofficial ambassador for the LRA’s victims.
At 3:15 p.m. at the Discovery HD Theater; also on Friday, June 25, at 1:15 p.m. at AFI Silver Theater 2.