A documentary chronicling the poignant story of war-torn Sierra Leone will be premiered in Wales next month.
Freetown – Hope Restored is the inaugural documentary of Welsh film-maker James Chapman. It highlights the tale of a country devastated by years of civil war, which resulted in massive poverty, unemployment and suffering. Chapman spent weeks in Sierra Leone and the US. He was in Freetown last March to film a crusade of Ben Cerullo Ministries. Named as one of the “30 emerging voices” that will lead the church in the next decade, Cerullo launched Ben Cerullo Ministries two years ago. Its aim is to take the Gospel to people of all ages and backgrounds throughout the world. “We saw conditions that were almost beyond belief,” says Chapman of his time in the war-torn country. “I witnessed first hand the plight of this city and its people. My burden and vision for this project grew as Ben and the others on our team interacted with local residents. “We heard testimonies and talked to people from all walks of life. “We were compelled to tell the world about Sierra Leone and the human tragedy perpetrated upon this nation.“As my first documentary, I had many choices to make. I wanted to capture the raw emotion and spiritual desolation that has emerged in the aftermath of great atrocities.
“Yet, the amazing thing is that the citizens of Sierra Leone have not given up. The overwhelming message of this film is hope. People in my hometown will have the opportunity to see the film for themselves and I am certain they will be deeply moved by this story.”
Chapman has been working with US-based Ben Cerullo Ministries since 2008.
“Early last year, out of the blue, I got a call from someone on Ben’s team about helping out with photography,” recalls Chapman.
After travelling to Mexico and Brazil as the team photographer, Chapman was asked to spearhead the Sierra Leone project.
In addition, he became a regular on the reality television series, Thunder Road, which airs weekly on digital channel Inspiration Network International.
“It’s really exciting. Here I was, this little-known Wales photographer, suddenly living my dream. I was taking pictures of people and places all over the world and became a cast member of a reality show that airs in 127 countries.”