Darfur Now Theodore Braun

Darfur Now Theodore Braun
The title of this movie is slightly misleading. It’s not about Darfur now; it’s about the activism and legal manoeuvring trying to help stave off the genocide going on inside its borders. And while that’s not a bad thing, the approach has certain problems.

Theodore Braun’s documentary starts off with a brief description of the strife-torn region but then segues into what we can do. We’re introduced to a previously apathetic activist trying to get California to divest itself from Sudan, an Argentinean lawyer at the Hague discussing the roadblocks to prosecuting the culprits, an aid worker on the ground in Darfur and, yes, Don Cheadle, one of the film’s producers, who’s been beating the ground on behalf of the cause as well.

One might accuse Cheadle of grandstanding but he’s not stupid: the film wouldn’t be getting nearly the attention it is if not for his involvement. And if nothing else, it keeps you from getting cynical that nothing can be done. That lawyer, who witnessed crimes against humanity in his own country, is adamant that such criminals can be brought to justice, and the film is constantly pumping you with the idea that action is better than silence.

Still, the film needs more of the Sudanese, with the representatives on hand not given nearly the same kind of voice as the other speakers — one only gets an abbreviated understanding of the extent of their suffering. This might make it more palatable for easily upset newbies, and if that makes it an entry point for thinking and acting about the genocide it will have served a useful purpose. Just be warned that the discussion doesn’t end here and needs some follow-up after the screening. (Warner Independent)