Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Sand And Sorrow

HBO's Sand And Sorrow is a touching documentary about the humanitarian crisis in Dafur that the international community has largely looked away from in the interests of political expediency. The strategic importance of some political relationships apparently makes systematic ethnic cleansing possible to overlook. That is the tragedy of Darfur.

The powers that be are only able to denounce what is happening there but not able to back talk by concrete, measurable action. So there are NATO observers who are placed on the ground to oversee and report on a fragile ceasefire but have no mandate to prevent the slaughter of the innocents. The aid of food and clothing to the indigenous African people who have become refugees in their own land, assuage the collective guilt of those who have chosen indifference to active participation in resolving the crisis.

The narrator contrasts the coverage on Darfur on popular media to stories on Martha Stewart and Micheal Jackson. Darfur is no more than a momentary blip for the major news channels. Yet high school kids in Illinois hold a candle-light vigil for the displaced and dispossessed of Darfur, intrepid reporters like Nicholas Kristof risk life and limb to go out there and report the story, protesters in Washington DC force the government to take action instead of dispensing platitudes.

Paul Freedman's film is about an extraordinary human tragedy, the politics that make Darfur possible, the power of ordinary people who influence change and finally how media can help diminish physical and emotional distance of the rest of the world from those who are suffering a great injustice.

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