Pray the Devil Back to Hell

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Pray the Devil Back to Hell
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Theatrical Poster
Directed by Gini Reticker
Produced by Abigail Disney Wp→
Music by Blake Leyh Wp→
Cinematography Kristen Johnson
Editing by Kate Taverna
Meg Reticker
Distributed by Balcony Releasing (US) ro*co films (International)
Release date(s) Tribeca Film Festival Wp→:
April 24, 2008
Theatrical Release:
November 7, 2008 — NYC
Running time 72 min.
Country USA
Language English subtitles

Pray the Devil Back to Hell is a documentary film directed by Gini Reticker and produced by Abigail Disney Wp→. The film premiered at the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival Wp→, where it won the award for Best Documentary.[1] The film had its theatrical release in New York City on November 7, 2008.

The film documents a peace movement called Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace. Organized by social worker Leymah Gbowee Wp→, the movement started with praying and singing in a fish market.[2] Leymah Gbowee organized the Christian and Muslim women of Monrovia Wp→, Liberia to pray for peace and to organize nonviolent protests. Dressed in white to symbolize peace, and numbering in the thousands, the women became a political force against violence and against their government.[3]

Their movement led to the election of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Wp→ in Liberia, the first African nation with a female president. The film has been used as an advocacy tool in post-conflict zones like Sudan, mobilizing African women to petition for peace and security.[4]

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Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace


A group of ordinary women in Liberia, led by Leymah Gbowee, came together to pray for peace. Armed only with white T-shirts and the courage of their convictions, they demanded a resolution to the country’s civil war.[5]

Under Leymah Gbowee's leadership, the women managed to force a meeting with President Charles Taylor and extract a promise from him to attend peace talks in Ghana. Gbowee then led a delegation of Liberian women to Ghana to continue to apply pressure on the warring factions during the peace process.[6] They staged a silent protest outside of the Presidential Palace, Accra, bringing about an agreement during the stalled peace talks.

Asatu Bah Kenneth is featured in the film. She is currently Assistant Minister for Administration and Public Safety of the Liberian Ministry of Justice.[7] At the time, she was president of the Liberia Female Law Enforcement Association, and inspired by the work of the Christian women's peace initiative, she formed the Liberian Muslim Women's Organization to work for peace.[8]

Working together, over 3,000 Christian and Muslim women mobilized their efforts, and as a result, the women were able to achieve peace in Liberia after a 14-year civil war and helped bring to power the country's first female head of state.


The title of the film is drawn from Gbowee’s statement about Taylor and the rebels. Both sides were supposedly religious. The rebels frequented mosques, while Taylor claimed to be a devout Christian who, according to Gbowee, could “pray the devil out of Hell.” It was therefore the responsibility of the women in this inter-faith coalition to pray the devil (of war) right back to Hell.[9]


In alphabetical order

  • Janet Johnson Bryant, as Herself
  • Etweda Cooper, as Herself
  • Vaiba Flomo, as Herself
  • Leymah Gbowee, as Herself
  • Asatu Bah Kenneth, as Herself
  • Etty Weah, as Herself


Women of Liberia

As a result of the First Liberian Civil War from 1989 until 1996 and Second Liberian Civil War from 1999 until 2003, and during post-conflict periods, Liberian women were displaced and faced the death of family members, sexual violence, and challenging economic and social environments.[10] The recovery effort has been led by Liberian women against sexual violence with an all-female United Nations peacekeeping force,[11][12] trained in sophisticated combat tactics and weaponry, crowd and mob control, and counter-insurgency.[13] In 2009, women made up 15 percent of Liberia’s national police force.[14]


  • This remarkable struggle for peace eventually paved the way for the election of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to the presidency of Liberia — the first democratic election of a female head of state anywhere in Africa.
  • On June 19, 2009, the film was featured on PBS on the Bill Moyers Journal [15]
  • Leymah Roberta Gbowee is the executive director of the Women Peace and Security Network Africa, based in Accra, Ghana.[16]
  • In 2007, Leymah Gbowee completed a masters degree in conflict transformation at Eastern Mennonite University.[17]
  • Leymah Gbowee was named one of "21 Leaders for the 21st Century".[18] In 2009, she and the Women of Liberia were honored with the JFK Profile in Courage Award from the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation.
  • The composer for the film, Blake Leyh, recently worked on a feature-length theatrical documentary entitled Killing Kasztner. The film depicts the story of Rezso Kasztner, a Hungarian Jew who negotiated with the Nazis during World War II for the release of 1,700 Jews. Kasztner was subsequently assassinated in Tel Aviv in 1957. Director Gaylen Ross spent seven years researching and interviewing multiple individuals in order to find out the truth about Kasztner's work and murder.

See also

External links

"Moving Images." In Something to Say: Thoughts on Art and Politics in America; Klin, Richard and Lily Prince (photos); Leapfrog Press, 2011


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