Making a difference. Now. This acclaimed, inspiring documentary follows six people who are striving to end the suffering in Sudans war-ravaged Darfur. The six an American activist, an international prosecutor, a Sudanese rebel, a sheikh, a leader of the World Food Program, and Don Cheadle, who traverses the globe with fellow actor George Clooney to pressure world leaders demonstrate the power of one individual to make extraordinary changes. Be an eyewitness to the tragedy and the triumphs, the fear and the pride. Meet the refugees, determined to return to their beloved homeland. And discover how you too can make a difference.
Hard to watch but impossible to turn away from, Darfur Now aims to educate, illuminate, and, most of all, motivate viewers to somehow get involved in bringing the calamitous situation in that African land to an end. Some basic facts are provided at the beginning of writer-director Theodore Brauns 98-minute documentary: Located in western Sudan, Darfur, a region about the size of France with a population of six million, has been in a state of severe crisis since 2003, when non-Arabs rebelled against the Muslim government. Working in tandem with the dread Janjaweed (literally "devils on horseback") to wipe out the rebels, military forces have enacted a relentless and systematic genocide that has resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths, with millions more displaced. The film then focuses on six individuals and their roles in the conflict. Luis Moreno-Ocampo, prosecutor for the International Criminal Court, works to collect evidence to use against the Sudanese authorities; Adam Sterling, a young American enraged by the lack of world response to the crisis, campaigns in California to pass legislation to force companies with interests in Sudan to divest; Pablo Recalde of the West Darfur World Food Program strives to provide food and save lives; Ahmed Mohammad Abakar, chief sheikh at a camp for displaced persons in Darfur, tries to rally his people; Hejewa Adam, a female rebel, trains to fight the Janjaweed; and actor-author Don Cheadle uses his celebrity (as well as George Clooney's) to raise public and official awareness of the situation. (The Sudanese government is represented by its U.N. ambassador, an unctuous individual who complains that the West has "over-dramatized" the situation.) These efforts are not without their successes: Sterling gets his bill passed, Recalde's food gets distributed, and Ocampo brings charges against two Sudanese officials (a largely hollow gesture, as the government refuses to surrender them). Beautifully filmed and edited, with multiple stories taking place on several fronts, Darfur Now plays more like a fictional drama than a documentary. But it's all too real, of course. "We must be patient until the white people come," says one of the rebels. Its a poignant, slightly pathetic statement, but unless that happens, this story will have no happy ending. --Sam Graham