Welcome to the interior of Liberia, West Africa. This is the setting for my first full-length screenplay, THE BITTER BUSH (previously called The Beckoning Bush and The Beautiful Unknown).
It is 1965. As the movie opens, John, Judy, and Michal Lundgren are leaving Minneapolis, Minnesota, to start a Lutheran mission in a village in Bandiland, in the hinterland of Liberia.
Many people who read The Bitter Bush assume I lived in Liberia and am the 12-year-old protagonist, Michal. But the Liberia of 1965 lives in my imagination only. It is a world created by years of studying Liberia, reading first-hand accounts, and interviewing people who were missionaries there. It is to these people, especially, that I owe such a debt of gratitude.
Here are some photographs my missionary friends shared with me to help me create the fictional village in the script. Please note that while they shared their personal story with me, they are nothing like John and Judy Lundgren, who in the movie end up doing almost more harm than good. My missionary friends are people who made many personal sacrifices to better the lives of others half-way across the world.
Sadly, the Liberian civil war in the 1980s destroyed many villages in the interior. The photos you see here are a glimpse into a world that may never exist again.