With a family name like Disney you would think an aspiring filmmaker might be tempted to get their feet wet making a comedy or crowd-pleasing entertainment.
Abigail Disney obviously sees things differently as she not only is a member of the world-famous brand name but also a producer of a documentary about oppression in Liberia called
Pray the Devil Back to Hell. That’s about as far away from Mickey Mouse as you can get.
Not that Mickey and his pals would disapprove especially considering how great her first feature is. Devil Back to Hell documents several women’s tales of suffering and sacrifice in Liberia, a place where murder and rape were an everyday occurrence. The women depicted brave the cameras to recount their struggle to band together and overthrow the corrupt regime, eventually putting Liberia’s first female leader in office. Disney remembers hearing of the women’s stories while doing humanitarian work in Liberia and being so empowered she came home and rushed to get the film made with her friend and director .
Prior to shooting Gini and Abigail were connected through their kids who both play in the same sports league. After discussing details and planning their trip to Liberia the pair was off on their adventure, a process that Disney feels completely changed her life.
“I was in Liberia and kind of a side effect of being there was I heard this story and I talked to a bunch of different women," Disney told
OXOFFICE. "One woman would say we sat on the field for two years. I talked to another woman and she’d say yeah we stripped naked at the peace talks. Little bits came out but I couldn’t pull the whole string together. It was clear something had happened, it was really important, everybody remembered it, everybody respected them and had the memory of it but it was kind of oral. Nothing had made it into the newspapers, nothing had made it into the mainstream news and that’s in and of itself a very important thing to note. So I came home and thought someone should make this film, my brother finally said, 'Shut up and make the film.' Gini and I reconnected, we had known each other years before and that was the beginning. We really understood the significance and the power of the story in a lot of the same ways.”
Reticker’s film background has also helped get the word out on Pray the Devil Back to Hell. The film has a smaller release platform and both women have been doing Q & A’s all around the country.
Both women are ecstatic over the final product but when the topic turns to self distribution Reticker believes it’s not an option, even in these hard economic times. “I like making movies. Distribution is a business and it’s a whole other entity. To me that just sounds so frustrating to have to spend my time doing that. I love being in the edit room, I love figuring out what I want the set to look like, I like figuring out what the story is, that’s what I like to do. The idea of self distribution makes me want to shoot myself.”
Pray the Devil Back to Hell is now playing in select theatres nationwide.
to listen to our full interview with Abigail Disney and Gini Reticker.