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Chicago, IL, United States, 2008/01/18 - Yale student and her photographs from Sudan are featured in award-winning documentary, "Facing Sudan".
Alice Baumgartner, a sophomore at Yale University, never expected to be in a film about Sudan. Two years ago, however, she was approached by Chicago filmmaker and teacher Bruce David Janu about including her unique photograph collection in a film he was making about Sudan.
And those photographs, featuring children from a refugee camp in Chad who had fled the violence in Darfur, are featured in the award-winning documentary along with the young activist.
The film, entitled Facing Sudan, documents the situation in that war-torn country through the eyes of ordinary people, like Alice, who have made a difference there. The film won two BEST DOCUMENTARY awards, first at the Landlocked Film Festival and then at the Illinois International Film Festival.
“The pictures Alice has of these children---taken by children---really highlight the human tragedy that is Darfur,” says Janu, who put the film together over the last two years, paying for the film himself and working long hours in his basement. And he knew he needed to include Alice’s story in the narrative.
As a high school student at the Latin School in Chicago, Alice had wanted to document the situation in Darfur but through the eyes of the region’s most vulnerable victims: the children. After approaching student correspondents from MTV, Alice was able to send two dozen disposable cameras to the war-torn area. They were distributed to children living in a refugee camp in Chad and then sent back to Alice.
The images show the cramped, dusty living conditions of everyday life for refugees fleeing the violence of Darfur. Yet they also capture the attempt by the inhabitants to maintain a sense of normality.
And all of the images are touched with an innocence that only a child’s eye can capture.
"The kids in these pictures,” states Alice, “are real people who are really suffering and who need help.”
In addition to interviews of Alice, the film includes a montage of those photographs set to music written and performed by Pennsylvania native Tom Flannery.
Facing Sudan was recently released on DVD and includes bonus footage of Alice discussing her photographs.