Ellen Sirleaf Johnson and the "Iron Ladies of Liberia"
CONCEIVED AND DIRECTED BY
Daniel Junge, Siatta Scott Johnson
Have you read about Ellen Sirleaf Johnson, Liberia's current president and the first woman president in Africa?
If you've read virtually anything about her and her administration, partly comprised of the women known as the "Iron Ladies of Liberia," then you'll realize that Daniel Junge and Siatta Scott Johnson's documentary is very much a tribute to Johnson and where she's trying to take Liberia.
"Iron Ladies of Liberia" is an insider's portrait of the president...that is both its strength and its greatest weakness. While "Iron Ladies of Liberia" was made with Sirleaf Johnson's cooperation, it often feels like an intentionally drawn portrait meant to show her in the most positive light possible.
While the film centers its attention on Sirleaf Johnson, it also gives time to the large number of women Sirleaf Johnson appointed to leadership roles in the nation. These appointments include a native Liberian living in New Jersey who returns to her homeland as the nation's chief of police.
While Michael Moore has proven time and again that it isn't necessary for a documentary filmmaker to paint both sides of a picture, "Iron Ladies of Liberia" does feel, at times, out of balance. While the filmmaker, an acknowledged acquaintance of the president, essentially plays observer for Sirleaf Johnson's first year of leadership, what it lacks is a more wholistic look at Sirleaf Johnson and the nation she's leading.
"Iron Ladies of Liberia" is an interesting documentary about a trailblazing leader in Africa. Having been aired on BBC, "Iron Ladies of Liberia" was an official selection during the 2008 Indianapolis International Film Festival.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic