DER Documentary

Returned: Child Soldiers of Nepal's Maoist Army


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by Robert Koenig
co-written by Brandon Kohrt
color, 30 min / 57 min, 2008







Non-profit and K-12 pricing also available
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Imagine being forced to leave your family and fight in war you don't understand - and you are only eleven years old. Sadly, for many of these child soldiers in Nepal this is a reality and the peace process has not solved their problems. These children quickly discovered that the return home is even more painful than the experience of war.

Returned follows several Nepali child soldiers including Asha, a young Nepali girl, who was sent home from the Maoists' People's Liberation Army after the ceasefire. Asha joined the Maoist army when she was 14-years-old. For this young low caste girl, joining the Maoists was a pathway to a future with education and employment. Despite two years of being on the frontlines, her biggest concern was what would await her when she returned home. Would she turn to commercial sex work, become a domestic slave, or would she be banished from her home and forced into marriage?

Returned weaves the voices of Nepal's child soldiers, organizations working to help them, and military leader's from Nepal's opposing forces, who answer challenging questions about their use of childen as warriors.

“Kohrt's parsimonious film carefully balances explanations and analysis offered by various professionals with scenes of Nepalese children involved in communist-inspired activities. Most telling, however, are young people's own statements about their experiences, statements which simultaneously reveal the rapport and trust established between themselves and the filmmaker.” — Society for Visual Anthropology
“This first-rate documentary... captures the blurred line between "choice" and "forced recruitment" of children, which is a basic analytical problem in the anthropological study of child soldiers. ...(Returned) raises broader questions about adult exploitation of the social dependency and cultural plasticity of children - especially children at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder.” — William P. Murphy, Department of Anthropology, Northwestern University

Film Festivals, Screenings, Awards
Best Short, Children's Advocacy 5th Annual Artivist Film Festival, Hollywood, CA, 2008
Best Student Work, Society for Visual Anthropology Film, Video and Interactive Media Festival, 2008
Best Documentary Short 2008 Atlanta Underground Film Festival, 2008
CARE Film Festival, Johannesburg, 2008
Himalayan Film Festival, Amsterdam, 2009
Document 7 - International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival, Scotland, 2009
Days of Ethnographic Film, Moscow, 2009
Children & Armed Conflict: Risk, Resilience & Mental Health Conference, Washington DC, 2009
Association for Asian Studies Annual Meeting, Philadelphia, PA, 2010
Anthropology Film Festival at UBC, Vancouver, Canada, 2010

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