The face of a young Nuban girl loomed over a crowded theatre at the U.S. Holocaust Museum last night, the final slide of a documentary presentation bringing to life the effects of war on the people of Sudan.
“Madina’s Dream” follows the lives of women, children, and rebel soldiers through the recent years of fighting in Sudan’s Nuba Mountains and into refugee camps to which many have fled across the border in South Sudan.
It is a story of the daily threat of aerial bombardment and food insecurity, marked by powerful scenes of children eating leaves and insects, hiding in caves, and the terrifying effect on those who fail to hide in time.
The perpetrators of the violence remain distant and obscure, identified mostly by the repeated references to “Bashir”, the Sudanese president wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide in Darfur.
But the reality of those targeted is stark, a deep sense of loss tinged with a spirit of survival and hope, ultimately captured in the dream of a little girl, Madina, wanting to return home.
In a panel following the film, the film’s director Andrew Berends sat with Cameron Hudson of the Holocaust Museum, former U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan and South Sudan Princeton Lyman, and Philip Tutu, a representative of the people featured in the film.
The conversation quickly delved into the complexities of the crisis in Sudan from the roots of the conflict to the continued impunity of Bashir. Through it all the determined face of Madina hung in the background, a reminder of the personal reality of the crisis for the people of the Nuba Mountains told in their own words, an aspect Berends sought to highlight and succeeded in emphasizing.
True to the theme of the film, the conversation ended on a tinge of hope with Berends showing reverence to the resilience of the Nuba culture and praising efforts to provide education, through a Nuba Education Fund, for those whose lives have been disrupted.
If the reception at the U.S. Holocaust Museum was any indication, the goal of calling “greater attention to this largely underreported and forgotten crisis” succeeded. United to End Genocide is proud to be a part of these efforts and applauds Berends for his powerful film and the museum for bringing it to a wider audience.