Hot Docs, North America's biggest documentary film festival, kicks off its 2011 run on April 28 in Toronto. Jam-packed with documentaries running through May 8, Moviefone Canada will be there from start to finish, offering up looks at some of the festival's noted films.

Every year there are few films at Hot Docs that cut through the pack. 'The Redemption of General Butt Naked' stands as one of the most memorable stories to come out of this year's festival. Despite a giggle-inducing title, there are few laughs in the film. 'The Redemption of General Butt Naked' asks the question: Can one be redeemed through faith, even in the aftermath of committing countless murders and child sacrifice?

The backdrop of this story is the Liberian civil war, a bloody battle that kept its people in fear and misery for 14 years. The most feared group on either side of the conflict was a commando unit known as the Butt Naked Brigade. Lead by Joshua Milton Blahyi, this impossibly vicious man has been attached to human sacrifice, cannibalism, black magic, devil worship, the recruitment of child soldiers and the deaths of 20,000 Liberians. The crown jewel of his mythical status was his lack of clothes when battling the masses, a practice that made him feel invisible and resistant to enemy fire.

Joining up with the General in more recent times, the documentary uncovers that he now works as a Christian evangelist. His sermons are filled with bravado and emotion, and he uses his newfound profession as a way to unleash his incredible energy. Blahyi is trying to reclaim his battered reputation and earn back the respect of his countrymen, but his true nature is constantly up for public discussion. His mission is to spread the word of God, apologize to his thousands of victims, and be a spiritual leader to his now-grown group of child soldiers. The emotional conflict for the people on the screen is palpable. As the limitations of forgiveness and the road to justice come to a crossroads, the film takes on a thriller-like quality.



Along the way, Blahyi must contend with his family life, death threats, and a national tribunal that will judge his war crimes and ultimately decide his fate. The most moving moments of this documentary come when watching the General apologize to men, women and children who have suffered unimaginable pain because of him.

Award-winners at the Sundance Film Festival, filmmakers Eric Strauss and Daniele Anastasion have taken some heady subject matter here, and the execution is pitch-perfect. What could have been a dreary doc about war has been worked into a personal and energetic story that asks big questions about this very specific set of circumstances.

Its only flaw may be the watered-down details of General Butt Naked's crimes, but perhaps they spare us an even rougher ride.

Screenings:
Saturday, April 30, 9:45PM - TIFF Bell Lightbox 2
Monday, May 2, 3:45PM - Cumberland 2
Saturday, May 7, 9:45PM - Cumberland 2

For complete schedule and movie listings, visit the Hot Docs website.