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Kony 2012: Filmmaker defends viral video campaign

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Jason Russell has defended his Kony 2012 viral video hit, while the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has branded criticism of the film "stupid".

Russell's video campaign attempts to draw attention to the use of child soldiers and extreme violence by Joseph Kony's Lord's Resistance Army in Uganda. Kony is already wanted by the ICC for alleged war crimes.

Russell had hoped to attract around 500,000 views for the video on YouTube, but as of today the film has been watched more than 73 million times.

Joseph Kony

© PA Images / STR/AP



"We were not prepared for this type of response because it has been a whirlwind," he said. "To us, it is the world waking up... it is a global revolution."

However, some critics have questioned the Kony 2012 video campaign's content and credibility, suggesting that it has oversimplified a long-standing human rights crisis in the country.

Former Big Brother housemate Makosi Musambasi has even suggested that the call for intervention in Uganda is linked to the discovery of oil in the country.

Russell, who made the video for his non-profit group Invisible Children, contacted 20 celebrities to spread the word about it, including Oprah Winfrey and Angelina Jolie. Movie producer Harvey Weinstein has since contacted Russell to buy the film.

> Invisible Children Kony 2012 campaign backed by Rihanna, Taylor Swift

Russell narrates the video, which also features his young son in San Diego learning about the alleged abuses committed by Kony and his forces.

Responding to the critics of his film, Russell told Reuters: "It definitely oversimplifies the issue. This video is not the answer, it's just the gateway into the conversation. And we made it quick and oversimplified on purpose.

"We are proud that it is simple. We like that. And we want you to keep investigating, we want you to read the history."

The video has received a mixed reaction in Uganda, with some people saying that the attention has come too late, and others pointing out that it does not cover similar abuses allegedly committed by the Ugandan military.

It is also thought that Kony fled Uganda in 2005, and now only has a few hundred fighters under his command. But Uganda said on Friday that it would catch Kony dead or alive, after the video attracted a wave of international support.

"All this hoopla about Kony and his murderous activities is good in a sense that it helps inform those who didn't know the monster that Kony is. But of course, this is too late," Uganda's defence ministry spokesman Felix Kulayigye told Reuters.

"It might take long but we'll catch Kony, dead or alive. How many years did it take to end the conflict in Northern Ireland? So our hunt for Kony can take long but it will end one day."

Invisible Children wants Kony to surrender and be brought before the International Criminal Court in the Hague.

Russell said: "Kony has been indicted, that's what we are saying. It doesn't matter if he has three fighters, 300 or 3,000. That's not the issue."

Luis Moreno Ocampo, who appears in the 30-minute video, branded criticism of the film "stupid" and said that it has "mobilised the world" against injustice .

"These white kids are spending their time to protect kids of their age in Africa. They are role models," he told BBC News.

However, Invisible Children has faced questions over its governance after financial statements revealed that a significant proportion of its funds were used on travel and film production rather than charitable work.

"They hear the word charity and they don't understand why all of our money isn't going to Central Africa," Russell responded.

"We have found that putting money towards our media and our movie changes lives. And in that life change, it has tangible results into a movement... that movement does galvanise the mission."

Watch the Kony 2012 video below:

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