Friday, September 26, 2008

Award-winning Documentary about Child Soldiers coming to NCF

Award-winning Documentary about Child Soldiers coming to NCF
By Suzy Woltmann
Excerpt from:
Catalyst Volume XXV
Wednesday, September 24, 2008; Page 10

Renowned filmmaker Robert Koenig is visiting New College to exhibit this 30-minute documentary about child soldiers in Nepal. At 7 p.m. on Sept. 25 and 26, the Emmy nominated director will be showing the film, "Returned: Child Soldiers of Maoist Nepal" and he will be on hand for a question-and-answer session after the film. The documentary, according to its official website, explores how Nepal went from what some in the media put it "Shangri-la to hell in ten years." It examines why children feel compelled to join armed forces and groups in Nepal and investigates ways to improve the lot of these children through the voices of child soldiers, Nepal leadership and experts in the field.

Nepal has been rife with political crises for over a decade. The country has recently has been plagued by a Maoist insurgency and a civil war that the rebels have dubbed the "People's War." This guerilla rebellion began on Feb. 13, 1996 when the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist declared war on the then of Kingdom of
Nepal. Both the Maoist and the government forces used tactics condemned by the European Union, including the heinous crime of recruiting and abusing child soldiers for their cause.

"I found the children involved to be very compelling," said Koenig. "For the most part, children aren't forced into service but rather go voluntarily. They think it's something more innocent,like a special camp or something, until they actually have to fight and kill. These children have issues upon their return home, where
they face stigma and shame within their community."

The documentary reached the Novo Collegiate radar when thesis student Shannon Strischek promoted the film while working as a summer intern for publicist company Savvy Buzz. Strischek kept the film in mind once school started and invited Koenig down to Sarasota using student-allocated funds and appealing to Director of New College Student Activities Konnie Kruzcek, who called the event a "great
opportunity." Strischek sent out several press releases for the exhibition to garner community notice and encouraged both New College students and Sarasota residents to attend the screening.

The film, which Koenig co-wrote with Brandon Kohrt, a medical anthropologist, came out in 2008 and has already won numerous awards at various film festivals, including Best Documentary Short at the Atlanta Underground Film Festival, Best Student Film at the Society for Visual Anthropology Film Festival and had been selected to
premiere in Hollywood, CA at the 5th Annual Artivist Film Festival.

Besides wishing for his film to be "successful," Koenig's objective with the documentary is to increase awareness of the plight of children soldiers and to one day improve their condition.

"I felt that by making this film we could give a voice to these children and bring a larger awareness to the difficulties that they are now facing," said Koenig. "In the future, we want to continue working aid organizations to assist returned child soldiers in reintegrating to their communities."

For now, United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF), Save the Children USA and Transcultural Psychosocial Organization (TPO) Nepal are the major aid groups that currently have programs in Nepal. These organizations work to get children jobs and help them to come back to their communities and avoid stigmatization, which can be especially difficult for girls. UNICEF and partners are
trying to address this and reintegrate child soldiers back into society in a productive way through vocational training and assistance.

Students interested in learning more about this cause can attend the film screenings, For more information or to contact Robert Koenig go to the documentary websites:

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Documentary on Child Soldiers of Nepal Thursday and Friday September 25 and 26 at New College of Florida

Documentary on Child Soldiers of Nepal Thursday and Friday September 25 and 26

Award winning film director, Bob Koenig’s documentary, “Returned: Child Soldiers of Maoist Nepal,” examines one of the use of child soldiers in the civil war in Nepal. The film will be shown in the Hamilton Classroom Teaching Auditorium on Thursday and Friday September 25 and 26 at 7:00 pm. This event is free and open to the public. Seats are on a first come, first serve basis.

In the past few months, Nepal’s government has undergone extraordinary changes. Despite recent hopes for peace, many people fear anything could upset the process.

“Nepal is going through the worst political crisis in its history,” explains Koenig, . “The monarchy has been abolished and the Maoists, the former guerrilla insurgents, have taken control of the government.”

“This film has the potential to influence people in the U.S. and other developed nations around the world to take action,” says Koenig. “It can help these children at the macro level and at the political level.”

Already the film is garnering a positive response both nationally and internationally. After a successful premiere at Atlanta’s DocuFest, it is slated to air during the United Nations Association Film Festival, receive a jury award from the American Anthropological Association, and admitted into the renowned Artivist Film Festival in Los Angeles.

“All the political parties involved in Nepal, including the U.S. government’s representatives, don’t want the truth uncovered,” Koenig says. “They don’t really want justice, they don’t really want to find out who was involved in which atrocities, because they are all somehow linked to criminal acts of violence.”

“We’re so excited to bring this documentary to New College,” says Konnie Kruzcek, director of New College Student Activities. “It’s such a great opportunity for our students and the community to gain understanding of a country that is so rarely discussed in the news.”

For more information or to arrange an interview with Bob Koenig, please contact Shannon Strischek at (404) 433-1724 or by email at


New College of Florida is a national leader in the arts and sciences and is the State of Florida's designated honors college for the liberal arts. Consistently rated among the country's top five public liberal arts colleges by U.S.News & World Report - including as the No. 1 public liberal arts college in "America's Best Colleges, 2007 Edition" - New College attracts highly motivated, academically talented students from 40 states and 25 foreign countries.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Nepal promotional footage at

Nepal is an amazingly beautiful country. In the documentary "Returned: Child Soldiers of Nepal's Maoist Army" the struggle to overcome the harsh terrain in Nepal is a reoccurring theme. This footage was shot by Scott Ippolito for the documentary "Returned: Child Soldiers of Nepal's Maoist Army", directed by Robert Koenig. Go to for more information about "Returned: Child Soldiers of Nepal's Maoist Army".

Returned: Child Soldiers of Nepal's Maoist Army is listed on IMDB

"Returned: Child Soldiers of Nepal's Maoist Army" is now listed on IMDB (Internet Movie Data Base). Please go to the our IMDB page and rate the film or add your thought and opinion to the user comment area or message board.

Also, there is a listing for Robert Koenig. IMDB works in mysterious ways and I hope that they add more information about the film and the crew. Be sure to check back regularly.

Robert Koenig