Darfur Now (2007)

Rated PG. Documentary. Running time: 1 hour 32 min.

Speak out for those who cannot speak,
for the rights of all the destitute. Speak out,
judge righteously,
defend the rights of the poor and needy.
Proverbs 31:8-9

Darfur Now

This compelling documentary puts a human face on what our own government calls “genocide” in Darfur. For the geography-challenged, the film starts out with a map showing the that Darfur is in the southwestern part of Sudan, which itself is situated south of its neighbor Egypt, and then the camera pulls back to show the rest of the world. By the end of an hour and a half, viewers will know not only where the region is located, but become familiar with a few of its citizens and those who are working hard to get the world to notice and do something about the horrors going on there. almost daily.

Six people, some citizens of Darfur and some American activists, speak out as they go about trying to prevent more atrocities. Since protesting against their government’s policies in Khartoum, the government has backed a group of mounted killers known as “Janjaweeds” who have killed about 200,000 and displaced into refugee camps over 2 and a half million during the past four years. Many of these are women and children because the men have been massacred—and far too many of the surviving women have been raped.

Hejewa Adam is a woman carrying an automatic rifle and vowing to be a victim no more. She lived in a peaceful village until the “Janjaweed” murdered her 3-month-old son. She and the other female soldiers sing anti-government songs and pin far too many hopes on the “white man who will come and arrest” their persecutors.

Ahmed Mohammed Abakar is a farmer forced off his land. He has become a refugee leader supervising over a hundred other leaders in his camp. We see him maintain his calmness as people come begging for help and complaining about their problems.

Don Cheadle and George Clooney assist student activist Adam Sterling who started by distributing leaflets at public gatherings and went on to badger California legislators to keep state monies away from companies that fund the Sudanese government (an economic strategy called divestment). The two movie stars travel to China and Egypt, as well as to the US Congress in an attempt to get officials to put pressure on the Sudanese government.

Two other outsiders who seek to “speak out for those who cannot speak” are Pablo Recalde and Luis Moreno-Ocampo. Pablo Recalde is in charge of the World Food Program in West Darfur, running his supply trucks through a gauntlet of gunfire and hijackings. Luis Moreno-Ocampo is a prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in the Hague, who some years back time brought members of the junta to justice in his native Argentina;

Director/writer Theodore Braun does a good job showing us the grassroots and high level efforts of those outside Darfur to bring about relief and justice, as well as the situation itself inside the refugee camps. The episode in which the activists manage to meet with Gov. Schwarzenegger and get a bill passed in Sacramento to divest California of Sudanese investment is stirring, even if it is but a small step. This is a good film showing how you can become involved in a crisis calling for compassionate action. For those really wanting to get involved, go to either the film’s website or to http://www.DivestForDarfur.org.