Ana’s Playground helps kids choose play over war

photos | Andy Richter

Dave Weiberg carried a Rocket Propelled Grenade launcher (RPG) into an elevator at Minneapolis’ Riverside Plaza. A young man who stood beside him asked, “Is that real?” Dave quickly said no and explained that the gun was a prop for the film Ana’s Playground. The young man smiled and said, “Well it looks great, it looks just like the one I used to shoot when I was a boy.” He told Dave that he had been a child solider in the conflict in Somalia.

The cast and crew of Ana’s Playground were amazed by this coincidence. They were creating a film about children in armed conflict in a neighborhood that had experienced it first-hand.

The idea to make a short film about children in conflict came to Eric Howell after he read a novel about snipers in Sarajevo. Knowing that there was already a lot of information available about the topic, Eric wanted to make something different. He created a film set in an indefinite location, without language or a specific culture.

Howell hopes that this ambiguity will portray his film’s message: not the story of a specific conflict, but about the problem that children all over the world are forced to make life and death decisions. “It’s [about] the moment where a child is forced to choose between ideology and humanity. The one moment where a child has to choose war over play.”

Howell plans to give this compelling short film to organizations that provide aid to war-effected kids. The film’s screening and branding rights will be given to organizations so they can use Ana’s Playground as a fundraising tool. Howell anticipates that the film will be released in May or June.

As a filmmaker, Howell understands that it is his responsibility to ignite conversation and action among people. “This is one way that I can do my part. It’s not going to change the world … but if you can change some thought in a few people and motivate a few people then maybe you’ve done something,” he says.


Right to Play
Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers
World Vision
War Child
The Global Movement for Children
The UN Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary General for Children and Armed Conflicts

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