Anne Poiret and; Florence Martin-Kessler
Went to Good Pitch
A year ago, in July 2011, the Republic of South Sudan became the world’s newest State and the United Nations’ 193rd member. After a 50-year civil war, which killed over 2-million people, the stakes and hopes are high. Everything is to be invented from scratch, starting with national identity.
The professionals of state-building, veterans of Kosovo and East Timor, prepare the birth of this new nation with a billion-dollar, 19-point roadmap. From the official celebration of independence, through the implementation of the foundations of the fledgling democracy, the film will follow Lise Grande, head of the United Nations in South Sudan and Riek Machar, former guerrilla chief and newly appointed Vice President, as they attempt to put theory into practice.
A year ago, in July 2011, the Republic of South Sudan became the world’s newest State and the United Nations’ 193rd member. The 50-year long war that pitted the Muslims of Khartoum in the North against the Christians and animists of the South killed over 2 million people and left another 4 million displaced. Decided by referendum, and with the support of the United Nations, the creation of the new South Sudan state should in principle foster a new era of stability and development. Both the stakes and the expectations are high. Everything remains to be invented from scratch, starting with a South Sudanese national identity.
The day of it’s independence, the new country had a flag, a national anthem, a capital, and its first president, Salva Kiir, a former rebel leader. But these were about the only elements that proved its existence to the world and to its people. Today, everything else still remains to be decided, built, and done: the borders need to be set; a constitution drafted; an army and judicial system established, revenues from oil production and income tax perceived - all the basic elements that make up a country.
Nations born from post-conflict zones tend to resemble one another in their tragedy and strife. Over the past twenty years, the international community has theorized and modelled, step-by-step, how to go about state building. Whatever the context, the same toolbox and recipes are applied. The UN’s professional States Builders -- veterans of much smaller Kosovo and East Timor -- are now preparing the birth of this new nation with a “19-point road map” that has a price-tag in the billions of dollars.
We wish to document the historic creation of this new state: how does one build a country, a state, a nation – a shared dream intertwined with a complex institutional architecture – where there had been nothing?
From the official celebration of independence through the implementation of the first foundations of the fledgling democracy, the film follows Lise Grande, head of the UN in South Sudan, and Riek Machar, former Sudanese guerrilla chief and newly appointed Vice President, as they attempt to put theory into practice. Added to the mix will be the South Sudanese people - victims of years of civil war, former child soldiers, shady businessmen, entrepreneurial immigrants and hopeful returnees – who are today, one year after their independence, facing the alarming perspective of a colossal humanitarian crisis.
It’s a rare opportunity to witness the birth of a new nation. What is exceptional here is that the whole process will be visible, starting from the highest sphere of the international community – with its ideals and theories – down to the ground-level work with its structures, kits and procedures. It’s this nitty-gritty reality of state-building that we want to capture, where the absurd and the necessary come together, revealing much more than any official report about the state of the world.