Documentary on Darfur refugees
Black River Eagle, over at Jewels in the Jungle blog, notes an interesting documentary by the Sierra Leonian filmmaker Sorius Samura. As you remember, Samura gained international acclaim for his chilling documentary Cry Freetown, which exposed to the world the horrific situation in his homeland in the late 90s.
Black River Eagle points to Samura's newest work Living with Refugees, about the catastrophic conditions faced by refugees from the Darfur genocide on the Sudan-Chad border.
The documentary exposes how the bureaucracy of the aid business sometimes leaves those most vulnerable behind. The UNHCR tell Sorious that "The situation here is a mess."
Yet ultimately, it's a story of an individual family and how people survive in the most unimagninably horrific situations.
Samura is increasingly gaining a reputation for a new kind of journalism which not many others can do. It's 'real' reality TV – stories that offer a unique perspective into the lives of people facing terrible situations, writes the UK's Channel Four, which aired Living with Refugees. He lived under exactly the same conditions, eating what they ate, drinking what they drank. Sorious built close intimate relationships with the people in this situation sharing their hopes and fears. This film provides a unique insight into what life is really like for a refugee.
I very much enjoy this personalized journalism, which sheds the neutrality (not to be confused with objectivity) and false equivalency of 'standard' reporting. It focuses not the presidents, dictators, warlords and cabinet ministers, but on the ordinary people whose real lives are affected by conflict. Another excellent proponent of this style of humanized journalism is Eric Beauchemin of Radio Netherlands' English service. A few years ago, he did a documentary on a related topic entitled Guinea's tattered welcome mat, which addresses the other side of the coin: the impact of huge refugee influxes on the populations of the places they settle. However, anything Beauchemin does is worth listening to.