With the Russian attack on Ukraine we have been hearing some high-volume chatter about Russian war crimes. According to the Red Cross Rules of War prepared in 1863 and signed by 193 countries the most important principle is that no civilians should be coming to harm. We see what a farce that is in the Ukraine, Syria and in the Vietnam War. It is a shame such lofty principles may amount to no more than pissing against the wind.
In “Rules of War” this Dutch documentary follows Red Cross worker Albert Schoneveld, a former soldier, as he goes into South Sudan to discuss the Red Cross rules of war with “rebel” troops. Schoneveld is an ex-soldier so he strikes his listeners with a ring of credibility. The dialogue and the childlike “village enactment” is somewhat paternalistic from my point of view. The soldiers are candid, intelligent and in principle they more or less agree with the rules but his clarity dims when the discussion turns to armed civilians of which Schoneveld can’t convincingly deal with. He speaks with sincerity and conviction but the last few minutes of the film perhaps illustrate the Red Cross script is missing the point. We see the soldiers with their families eating a meal as the women sing and complete domestic tasks. Is director Guido Hendrikx intentionally communicating to us the answer to education might be for Red Cross representatives to say how would you like your family as civilians to be treated. Why are these last few minutes in the documentary? I think there is a message in there!
These showings are World Premiers. The documentary will be showing on March 24/29/31 and too bad there is no virtual option.
RKS Film Rating 84/100.