Lumière x ELSA: Theatre of Violence

Can you be both perpetrator and victim? That is the central question in this documentary about a Ugandan soldier appearing before the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

Time & Tickets

Sharp and flamboyant lawyer Krispus Ayena leads the way in this fascinating, complex examination of the essence of justice. Ayena defends Dominic Ongwen before the International Criminal Court (ICC). Ongwen is a former commander in Joseph Kony’s Ugandan Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). The LRA terrorized Northern Uganda with large-scale killings. The crimes of which Ongwen is accused are appalling. But Ongwen was himself kidnapped and brainwashed by that same army when he was only nine years old, and so the question arises: is he a perpetrator or a victim?

Led by Ongwen’s lawyer, we go back and forth between the ICC courtroom and Northern Uganda on a quest for the true meaning of justice and punishment. We meet Joseph Kony’s wife and daughters and witness a surreal conversation with Kony’s spiritual advisor. We also see how Ugandan communities recover from trauma – and how that clashes with the foundations of the ICC. When does a victim turn into a perpetrator?

This screening is a collaboration with ELSA, The European Law Students' Association, an international, independent, non-political organization for young lawyers. Maastricht University Alumna Rebecca Heemskerk and journalist Harriet Salem will provide an introduction to the film, and will moderate the discussion.

Rebecca Heemskerk

Heemskerk has over 20 years of experience practising the law as a criminal defence lawyer. As such, she has tackled both cases in Dutch criminal law and in international criminal law. For many years she has been a teacher of comparative criminal substantive law and international criminal law at Maastricht University.

Harriet Salem
Harriet Salem has worked as a journalist for over a decade covering conflict, crises and politics. She has reported from the Middle East, Africa, and Eastern Europe for The Guardian, The Times, The Financial Times, Politico and Newsweek among others. Harriet holds an MA in International Politics from the University of Manchester and is currently studying for her LLM in Globalisation and Law (specialisation in human rights) at Maastricht University.

Time schedule:

19.15 - Doors open
19.30 - Start introduction
19.45 - Start documentary
21.30 - Start discussion
22.00 - End

Lukasz Konopa & Emil Langballe, Denemark, Germany, 2023, 104 min. English & Swahili spoken, English subtitles.