LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The group Invisible Children released a new video on Thursday as a follow-up to the viral “Kony 2012” film aimed at focusing global awareness on atrocities attributed to Ugandan rebel leader Joseph Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army.
“We want people to dig deeper into this conflict and actively engage in the solutions,” Ben Keesey, CEO of Invisible Children, said in a statement announcing the new 20-minute video: “Kony 2012: Part II - Beyond Famous.” He said the newest video is “a call to turn global awareness into informed action.”
The “Kony 2012” film became an Internet sensation last month, racking up more than 86 million hits on YouTube since it was posted. Its success has been hailed for inspiring young people to activism, but has been criticized for oversimplifying the long-standing human rights crisis in the region.
It also has put Invisible Children and Jason Russell, the organization’s public face, in the spotlight.
That attention turned uncomfortable last month when Russell, the star and narrator of the first “Kony 2012” film, suffered a public meltdown in California that doctors described as a brief psychotic breakdown.
“We just thought it was going to be a lot harder to make people care,” the organization’s Director of Idea Development, Jedidiah Jenkins, told Reuters in an earlier interview. “Most 16-year-olds do not want to hear about warlords in Africa.”
The conflict is not limited to Uganda, but has long since spilled over into the Democratic Republic of Congo, where Kony was last sighted, and where other rebel groups and government forces have also been accused of atrocities.
The Lord’s Resistance Army also operates in South Sudan and the Central African Republic.
“When you see something slick, when you see something that feels like propaganda, we’re used to thinking that its selling something,” Jenkins said. “You can sell something that is actually good and intelligent. It doesn’t have to be a trick.”
Invisible Children said the new film provided a more in-depth look at the Lord’s Resistance Army and outlines regional efforts to end violence in central Africa.
“The LRA has abducted over 50 people in central Africa since Kony 2012 was launched one month ago.
“Now we have the opportunity to work together as a global community to help solve this issue,” said Jolly Okot, Invisible Children’s Uganda Country Director.
On April 20, the group will sponsor a “Cover the Night” day of activism, in which supporters are expected to volunteer for five hours in their communities and promote the anti-Kony cause.
Additional reporting by Cynthia Johnston; editing by Paul Thomasch and Todd Eastham