Free pizza fails to draw an ample audience to genocide

“Darfur Now” is a documentary that follows six people on their quest to effect change in a region fraught with violence. On Tuesday, April 1st, Students Taking Action Now Darfur or STAND showed this documentary to a half-full crowd. Apparently, even the promise of free Flatbread can’t erase the prospect of two painful hours learning about genocide. Which is not to say that the film was boring. Filmmaker Ted Braun, skillfully interweaves the stories of six different people mobilized by the situation in Darfur. Luis Moreno Ocampo is the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court. Adam Sterling is an earnest waiter/activist who feels that the genocide in Darfur “requires that we do something.” Ahmed Mohammed Abakur is Chief Sheikh at a camp for displaced persons. Don Cheadle is a Hollywood star at?tempting to leverage his celebrity into Darfur awareness. Pablo Recalde is a humanitarian who provides food to the camps of people who had to flee their villages. Hejewa Adam lost her child to the Janjaweed and now fights with the rebel army. The film only briefly provides the facts, the basics of which are that the government-sanctioned Janjaweed are attacking the Sudanese people in the Darfur region, killing them, raping the women and burning villages. Currently, tribal fighting is also causing many deaths. The crisis, as the film demonstrates, is hardly simple. What’s undisputed, however, is the suffering and pain of the Sudanese civilians. During one meeting at a refugee camp, one man with tears running down his face cries, “This is too much humiliation!” It is too much, it seems: too much pain, too much degradation. With over 200,000 people dead, the horrors of Darfur are difficult to face. They are difficult to watch, too, even in documentary form with a George Clooney cameo and catchy music. True suffering is awful to witness. We can’t turn away from it, however. There’s a scene in the movie where Adam Sterling stands on the street with postcards for people to sign professing their support for legislation that would make it more difficult for the Sudanese government to procure funds. People walk by, avoiding eye contact, refusing to take the two seconds necessary to learn about the legislation and sign the card. STAND has many events in the upcoming month. They can be found at www.uvm.edu/~stand. STAND believes that your collective voices, if loud enough, may make a difference.