Super Power

Institute History

  • 2002 June Screenwriters Lab


A tale of surfaces, interiors, and the rifts that run through them, Super Power describes an African child soldier's efforts to resume a lost childhood at the end of a brutal civil war. Told entirely from the boy's point of view, the story recounts how 11-year-old Joseph returns to his small, destroyed village only to encounter fear, anger, and hostility, both from his own people as well as from his past aggressors. Despite extreme psychological and physical isolation, the boy demonstrates moving acts of forgiveness, compassion, and hopeā€”all the while obsessively farming a small field riddled with land mines.

At the heart of the story is a tense father-son dynamic between Joseph and a naive Swedish volunteer named Goose, who is unaware of the boy's violent past. Equal parts fool and saint, Goose is the savior and betrayer to the African boy; in short, he is an embodiment of Western involvement with Africa. More significantly, he is the living embodiment of a shattered life rebuilt. An ex-junkie and criminal offender rehabilitated by an enlightened state, HIV-positive though unfazed by the specter of death, Goose exposes his own transgressions with such joy and honesty that Joseph, too, is inspired to disclose his own atrocities once the Swede has departed.

For most, the end of war is a time for celebration. For the child soldier, it is the start of a different kind of battle. Unsentimental yet poetic, Super Power negotiates the nightmare and daydream realms of a wounded boy's psyche. Violence remains off screen for a purpose, as the film focuses instead on the complex struggle for acceptance in African society. And though it makes clear child soldiers are not born to kill, the film appreciates the harsh terrain of reconciliation and forgiveness.

As you use our Online Archives, please understand that the information presented from Festivals, Labs, and other activities is taken directly from official publications from each year. While this information is limited and doesn't necessarily represent the full list of participants (e.g. actors and crew), it is the list given to us by the main film/play/project contact at the time, based on the space restrictions of our publications. Each entry in the Online Archives is meant as a historical record of a particular film, play, or project at the time of its involvement with Sundance Institute. For this reason, we can only amend an entry if a name is misspelled, or if the entry does not correctly reflect the original publication. If you have questions or comments, please email [email protected]