Paco de Onis

Paco de Onís, producer of The Reckoning (POV 2009) and the upcoming Granito: How to Nail a Dictator (POV 2012), responds to the KONY 2012 phenomenon.

KONY 2012, an online video that has now been viewed 100 million times (and counting), was produced by the nonprofit organization Invisible Children with aims to disarm the Lord’s Resistance Army, an African militia, and its leader, Joseph Kony.

I’ve followed Invisible Children for years and we’ve often crossed paths on the international justice circuit. They’ve been on the Kony case for a long time, targeting American youth in their campaigns, but also producing a lot of money in the process. They’ve been working on making Kony a celebrity for years, and now they’ve succeeded. They’ve created a Billy the Kid or Al Capone for our times.

Since I became aware of Kony during the making of our film The Reckoning in 2006, I’ve been interested in the practical approaches to apprehending him, which raises the questions, How is he getting arms and ammunition? Who is aiding him from the outside? Who pays his satellite phone bill? Doesn’t the satellite phone company know exactly where he is every time he turns on the phone, or even when it’s off?

If I can locate my iPhone from my laptop, why can’t international intelligence operatives, and the U.S. army advisors on the ground in Uganda, figure out where he is? We found Osama bin Laden, but we can’t seem to find Kony? These questions make me wonder what’s going on.

I have no conspiracy theory about this, but I do wonder why the issue of how Kony survives as an armed and connected warlord with backers, is never addressed.

Learn more about the International Criminal Court and international justice on POV’s companion site for The Reckoning or visit the official site for The Reckoning at Skylight Pictures. Granito: How to Nail a Dictator premieres this summer on POV.

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POV (a cinema term for "point of view") is television's longest-running showcase for independent non-fiction films. POV premieres 14-16 of the best, boldest and most innovative programs every year on PBS. Since 1988, POV has presented over 300 films to public television audiences across the country. POV films are known for their intimacy, their unforgettable storytelling and their timeliness, putting a human face on contemporary social issues.