Can-do pep is the resonant key in Ted Braun's profile of six people, spread across three continents, working to provide relief in western Sudan. Featured are a sheik displaced by internecine warfare, International Criminal Court prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo, a young activist from Los Angeles, and ... Don Cheadle. The film tarries briefly on outright atrocity, moving through an abridged history of Darfur, then lets its subjects explain what regenerating the region means to them and why it should matter to humanity as a whole. But where the right images could have been profound, incontrovertible, and traumatic, testimony is worth only so much (and the film will severely test the average viewer's threshold of forbearance for righteous Californians). If you evaluate Darfur Now against the goals it sets for itself — as a stirring call to action — it must be considered lacking. The filmmaking is undistinguished, and the images taken from the conflict, though tragic — dust-blanched refugee camps, an AK-47 in every other pair of hands — will be difficult for the theoretical average, uncommitted viewer to distinguish from the familiar picture of endangered sub-Saharan Africa. The argument can be made that the subject's urgency excuses the need for artfulness; the opposite, of course, is true.
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