Should a film about genocide be pretty, triumphant and easily digestible? Meant for mass appeal, Darfur Now is a slick documentary on the human-rights disaster in Sudan. After four years, some 200,000 dead, 2.5 million displaced and one belated U.N. resolution, the crisis in the African nation remains unresolved. Earlier this month, government troops and militias reportedly slit the throats of several men praying in a mosque and shot a five-year-old boy in the back. Which makes Darfur Now both necessary viewing—and a missed opportunity.
Rather than probe mass slaughter, the film focuses mostly on the bright side, following six individuals fighting to remedy the injustice, including Don Cheadle, who uses his celebrity to raise awareness; International Criminal Court prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo; and two Darfurians, the head of a displacement camp and a female member of the Sudanese Liberation Army, driven to take up arms after her child was murdered. Her story alone should incite viewers. But Darfur Now is atrocity lite. If the film’s mission is to heighten consciousness, beautiful HD shots of the richly hued clothing of Darfurian women cloud the dire realities of the people. As one elderly woman says, “If they give us food, we will eat; if not, we will die, that’s all.”