May 27, 2008

Darfur Now


Reviewer: Maria Komodore
Rating (out of 5): ***

Having first explored humanitarian crises while starring in the eye-opening Hotel Rwanda (2004), actor Don Cheadle is once again one of the main characters in the real-life stories around which the documentary Darfur Now, also a film about genocide, revolves.

The film by Ted Braun follows six different people in their very different but equally crucial efforts to deal with the horrible atrocities taking place in Darfur, Sudan: Cheadle uses his celebrity status to make people aware of the situation encouraging them to get involved in whatever way they can; International Criminal Court prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo is struggling to come up with the necessary evidence in order to bring the culprits before justice; relief worker Pablo Recalde hassles with securing the safe delivery of food rations in the camps hosting the incredibly large number of dislocated people; UCLA student and activist Adam Sterling is successfully fighting for the passing of a bill that prohibits the state of California from doing business with Sudan; and Hejewa Adam joins the Sudanese armed rebel force after losing her young child.

Although documenting all these sincere and noble efforts is valuable, Darfur Now never makes clear what the reasons behind the conflict in Darfur are. All we learn through the film is that the crisis has to do with the Sudanese officials instigating a relentless war against Darfur's farming population secretly involving Arab militias, the Janjaweed, in the process. But at no point are we given any insight about what lead to the very unfortunate situation and the many political nuances behind it. Nor is the question ever answered of why the governing powers of Sudan are doing what they're doing without finding any meaningful opposition from the UN (the UN doesn't even recognize what’s happening in Sudan as genocide.)

But more than anything else Darfur Now strives to be a film about taking action and realizing that what happens in the world affects us all no matter how far or close, and if viewers don't expect anything more than that, they will still find some reward here.

The DVD also includes an introduction and audio commentary by filmmaker Braun, and deleted scenes that offer a little more information about the conflict and life in the refugee camps.

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Posted by cphillips at May 27, 2008 1:43 PM
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