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Film review: Darfur Now

"Darfur Now" does one thing other documentaries on the region in western Sudan haven't done so far: It offers hope that something substantive may be done about the Darfur genocide.

The film shows a handful of relief efforts from around the world. And while screenwriter-director Ted Braun's documentary feature would probably be better focused and a little more effective if it concentrated on perhaps one or two of these stories, it's still worthwhile.

"Darfur Now" looks at Hejewa Adam, who recently joined Darfur rebels opposing the Janjaweed militia, made up of horseback-riding thugs who have killed more than 200,000 civilians. Meanwhile, Ahmed Mohammed Abakar has his hands full as the leader of a refugee camp.

Ecuadoran-born Pablo Recalde is spearheading efforts to get much-needed food supplies to those refugee camps. Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Court, is pursuing indictments against Darfur officials believed to have ordered the genocide.

And in California, waiter and college graduate Adam Sterling is gathering signatures for legislation that will put financial pressure on the Darfur government.

Actor-activist Don Cheadle may be the biggest name of this bunch — he co-authored a best-selling book titled "Not on Our Watch: The Mission to End Genocide in Darfur and Beyond." But his is perhaps the film's least consequential bit (even though it does feature a brief appearance by his "Ocean's" movies co-star George Clooney).

Frankly, we'd like to know more about Sterling, who joins forces with Cheadle at one point to help get the legislation to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's desk.

The same goes for the likable Recalde, who reveals that he's been away from his family for quite some time.

"Darfur Now" is rated PG for gun violence and strong, disturbing violent imagery (gory photos of dead bodies), scattered mild profanity (mostly religiously based), slurs based on nationality and ethnicity, and vulgar slang. Running time: 98 minutes.