Until now, that is: Darfur, the sand-bitten beachhead of benign neglect by the world, is getting its moment in the sun these days. And "Darfur Now," a new documentary written and directed by Theodore Braun, lets the sunshine in as never before.
Opening on Friday, Dec. 14, "Darfur Now" goes far in proving how one man or woman can dare change the world. And Adam Sterling — untarnished by cynicism and buffed to a high shine by his own family's historical legacy of healing after the Holocaust — is a gift of giving, a resourceful recourse to the global glitch that gluts the killing field of Darfur.
One of the living action figures who figures into the film, the 24-year-old UCLA grad has stamped his own initials on saving the Sudan. Director of the Sudan Divestment Task Force of the Genocide Intervention Network, Sterling has steered business investment away from Darfur's corrupt government, and was instrumental in California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger terminating his state's business deals that could ultimately endanger the Darfur people.
Never say never? Always say never!
"I grew up with the backdrop of the Holocaust; 'Never again' was a big aspect of my life," says the accomplished writer, attempting to right the world as a rite of his own heritage. His grandmother escaped prior to World War II, but other members of his family were lost during the Holocaust.
Sterling feels just at the right place at the right time in revealing the wrongful deaths of so many Sudanese: "Darfur has been called Rwanda in slow-motion," he notes of that other beleaguered battle cry for salvation.
"We are at a crossroads in helping," he stresses.
Cross him off any list of the apathetic; stop signs are not in his study of semiotics. His efforts are full-time fulminating against the deaths and displacement of millions of people.
Echoes of the Holocaust? He hears it in his heart every day, the thump of tragedy, the thump of apathy.
Yet Sterling is not a lone voice in an aloof environment.
Can you hear me now? Yes, replies the American Jewish community.
"There is no question the American Jewish community is one of the loudest in voicing and giving support in this crisis," he says.
It takes a smart man to intellectualize his own ignorance. Forrest Gump gumption can be a box of chocolates, after all.
"Ignorance is my bliss," says Sterling of having "never started to think of how difficult everything would be to accomplish."
But he is more than a blip in the results, believing that upon "learning about the Holocaust, why let it repeat itself?"
In the gene pool in which he wades, "I have no excuses not to take action," he says.
On screen, his celebrity is indeed celebrated, though dimmed by the accompanying wattage of actors like George Clooney and Don Cheadle, whose activities on behalf of Darfur are stunning.
But Sterling stirs the pot not to be hailed, but to give hell to those whose insouciance instills concern. Genocide engenders germane agendas, and he's honest about his own onus: "I feel the burdens of history."
As for those relatives who perished and make genocide such a telltale topic for him, he asks simply of his salvation savvy: "What better way than to honor their memory?"