Vic Sarin, director of The Boy From Geita, a hard-hitting documentary about the cruel violence against albinos in Tanzania, lashed back today at comments made earlier this week by Tuvako Manongi, Tanzania’s special representative to the United Nations.
“First of all, I wish Mr. Manongi had seen the film,” Sarin tells Deadline ahead of the film’s release today. “I feel it is totally a political move on his part rather than a humane move on how to tackle the issue.”
The Boy From Geita chronicles the vicious attack against Adam Robert, a young albino Tanzanian whose fingers were hacked off for their supposed medicinal value. The film follows the efforts of Canadian Peter Ash, an albino and founder of the advocacy group Under the Same Sun, to arrange surgery for Adam.
Manongi decried the documentary as “exaggeration” and “drama.” At a UN press briefing Wednesday, during which he discussed a government crackdown against witch doctors and ritual attacks of albino adults and children, Manongi defended his country’s “broad-based interventions, driven by the conviction that the tragedy confronting our fellow citizens is a heinous crime deserving severe punishment.”
About the film, Manongi said, “regrettably some individuals and entities have transformed the plight of our people as a source of generating fame and income. These have resorted to exaggeration, drama and blatant disregard of the positive measures we are taking as a country, and by our leaders. Unfortunately these include the producers of the film entitled The Boy From Geita.”
Sarin tells Deadline that he made sure “efforts of the government are well presented” in the film, but that “solid evidence of these atrocities were important to me and I saw plenty of it, time after time.”
“I spent three years shooting and editing this film,” Sarin says, “a labor of love with no outside interference or support.” He disputes Manongi’s comments that “the belief in witchcraft doesn’t exist in his country. It is very much there and the evidence of that is presented well in the film.”
The Boy From Geita opens today in New York at Anthology Film Archives, and is available on demand at Amazon, iTunes, Xbox and other services.