Wednesday, April 13, 2005

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.


At 8:24 AM, Blogger Black River Eagle said...

Thanks for the Hat Tip on my brief article re: Living with Refugees by Sorius Samura. I caught the airing on CNN by accident last Saturday because they had cancelled the original time-slot without informing viewers (in Europe) about a new scheduled time for the documentary.

As usual with most Samura documentary videos, I sat there riveted to the TV set taking in his unique approach to storytelling. At the end I could only drop my head in sorrow for the refugees and anger at the UNHCR. I know that the professional humanitarian officials and workers on the ground are trying to do their best, but darn it they (or we) must do a much better job than what Samura's video depicted. Corruption and abuse all over the place right under the UNHCR's nose and eyes. We are wasting money and killing people at the same time if you know what I mean.

Living with Refugees is a must-see documentary for people who want to understand better what those people in Darfur and the millions of people stranded in refugee camps across the globe go through every day for years and years.

Those links to the Radio Netherlands resources on Guinea are much appreciated. You are doing a great job on this blog, Brian. Keep it up.

I have to go chase software bugs from Microsoft again. Ciao.

At 4:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Raise awareness on Darfur:

I am an advocate for stopping suffering of the people of Darfur.
I have a history of documentary work as well as national television productions. I also have been a talent agent and personal manager of major celebrities. I am currently semi retired in Montecito, California.

My current passion is to create a documentary and spearhead the marketing to create a world class product to distribute - Like the Brothels of India that won an Oscar this year and the power of the vision from Hotel Rwanda.

I have seen on the Internet that several have made documentaries on Darfur. I would like to see all that exist and see if we can bring together a world class team of producers, editors and celebrity power to merge them into one spectacular project that will get the world wide attention it deserves and requires to make major changes in current vision of the reality of what is happening.

My experience in producing, managing such an event would allow me the privilege of overseeing such a worthy event...

Please contact me to discuss this or other concepts you may have.

Most Sincerely,

Bernard Sandler
Tel. 805-969-2509


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