Film: "Darfur Now"

"Darfur Now" ABOUT THE FILMMAKERS

(left photo) “Dafur Now” director Ted Braun in Darfur.  The film is a Warner Independent Pictures release. © 2007 AIW Documentary, LLC and Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

TED BRAUN (Writer/Director) spent the first four months of 2007 in Sudan filming Darfur Now with unprecedented access to the internally displaced people of Darfur, international aid workers, the government and the rebels. He has written and directed award winning documentaries and fictional films for HBO, PBS, A&E and The Discovery Channel on subjects ranging from the historical Jesus to test pilots of aviation’s golden age to his most recent film, We’re Here To Speak For Justice, which chronicled the battle for civil rights of California’s developmentally disabled citizens.  His documentary on the first Gulf War for U.S. News & World Report was A&E’s highest rated original documentary in 1991.  Darfur Now is his first theatrical documentary.

Braun taught screenwriting at Amherst College before joining the faculty at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts, where he is an Assistant Professor in Screenwriting.  He regularly lectures, conducts seminars, and serves as a script consultant throughout Europe and the US.  In addition, he worked for Frank Daniel at The Sundance Filmmaker’s Lab and with legendary screenwriter Robert Towne on The Two Jakes, the sequel to Chinatown.

CATHY SCHULMAN (Producer) won the 2006 Oscar® for Best Picture for producing Crash.  She has been an executive and producer in the film business since 1987.  Her other recent credits include The Illusionist, starring Edward Norton and Paul Giamatti, and Thumbsucker, released in 2005 and starring Tilda Swinton, Vince Vaughn and Keanu Reaves.  Schulman is President of Mandalay Pictures and Mandalay Independent Pictures, and oversees the company’s large slate of films. 

An active member of the Producers Guild of America, AFI, IFP and FIND, Schulman teaches graduate level film producing at UCLA.

DON CHEADLE (Producer) was nominated for a 2004 Academy Award® as best actor in Hotel Rwanda.  The film won top honors at the 2004 Toronto and AFI Film Festivals and garnered Cheadle a Golden Globe Award, Broadcast Film Critics Award and Screen Actors Guild Award nominations for best actor, as well.  He was also featured in Crash, alongside Sandra Bullock, Matt Dillon and Thandie Newton.  Cheadle also produced the film, which took the 2006 Oscar® for best picture.

Since being named Best Supporting Actor by the Los Angeles Film Critics in 1995 for his breakout performance opposite Denzel Washington in Devil In A Blue Dress, Cheadle has consistently turned in powerful performances on the stage and screen.  Other feature credits include Ocean’s Eleven, Ocean’s Twelve, Traffic, Out of Sight and Boogie Nights.  Cheadle recently finished shooting the features Empty City with Adam Sandler and the recently released Ocean’s Thirteen and Talk to Me.  His television credits include an Emmy®-nominated arc on E.R. and a Golden Globe®-winning performance as Sammy Davis, Jr. in HBO’s film The Rat Pack. 

 

MARK JONATHAN HARRIS (Producer) is a three-time Academy-Award® winning documentary filmmaker, journalist, novelist, and film professor.  Among the many documentaries he has written, produced and/or directed are The Redwoods, a documentary made for the Sierra Club to help establish a redwood national park that won an Oscar® for Best Short Documentary (1968); The Long Way Home, winner of the Academy Award® for Best Feature Length Documentary (1997); and Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport, produced for Warner Bros., winner of the Academy Award® for Best Feature Length Documentary (2000).

 

In addition to filmmaking, Harris also writes journalism, and has published short stories and five novels for children. Since 1983, he has taught filmmaking at the School of Cinema-Arts at the University of Southern California, where he is currently a Distinguished Professor. 

 

JEFF SKOLL (Executive Producer) founded Participant Productions in January, 2004 and serves as Chairman.  Skoll's vision for Participant is to create a longterm, independent, global media company focused on longterm benefit to society.  Citing classic films such as To Kill a Mockingbird, Gandhi and Erin Brockovich as examples, Skoll most recently served as executive producer on Participant films Good Night, and Good Luck, North Country, Syriana, American Gun and An Inconvenient Truth and on upcoming films, The World According to Sesame Street and Fast Food Nation.

Skoll has been a leader in technology and philanthropy for many years.  In 1996, Skoll joined eBay as its first President and first full-time employee, and developed the company's business plan.  After helping to bring CEO Meg Whitman to the company in 1998, Skoll became the VP of Strategic Planning and Analysis at eBay and led the company's acquisition, community development and new business efforts through 2001.  In the months before eBay went public in 1998, Skoll led the company's effort to give back to the community, creating the eBay Foundation through an allocation of pre-IPO shares, an innovation that inspired a wave of similar commitments nationwide.  

But Skoll didn't stop there. In 1999, he launched his own philanthropic organization, the Skoll Foundation for which he serves as founder and chairman. He created the foundation in alignment with his core belief that it is in everyone's interest to shift the overwhelming imbalance between the "haves" and "have-nots." The foundation takes up this challenge by focusing on social entrepreneurs – people who couple innovative ideas with extraordinary determination, tackling the world's toughest problems to make things better for us all. In five short years, Skoll and the foundation have emerged as social sector leaders; in 2002 through 2005, Skoll was recognized as one of today's most innovative philanthropists by Business Week, and he is frequently cited for his leadership in advancing the work and field of social entrepreneurship.
 
His recent honors and awards include Time Magazine's 100 People of the Year (2006), Wired Magazine's Rave Award (2006), the National Leadership Award for Commonwealth Club Silicon Valley (2004), the Outstanding Philanthropist Award from the International Association of Fundraising Professionals (2003) and the Outstanding Philanthropist Award from the Silicon Valley chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (2002).  In addition, in 2003, Jeff was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the University of Toronto.

In April 2005, Skoll launched the Gandhi Project in partnership with Silicon Valley entrepreneur Kamran Elahian. Working with Palestinian voice actors and artists, an award-winning director dubbed the epic film into Arabic. It is being screened throughout Palestine in order to advance civil society goals of peaceful resistance, self-reliance, economic development and local empowerment, and plans are under way to expand screenings throughout the Arab world.
 
Skoll holds a Bachelors degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Toronto, and an M.B.A. from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

DIANE WEYERMANN (Executive Producer) As Executive Vice President, Documentary Films, Diane Weyermann is responsible for Participant Productions’ documentary slate.  This includes Sundance 2007’s opening night film, Brett Morgen’s Chicago 10, Jonathan Demme’s award-winning Jimmy Carter, Man From Plains, Ted Braun’s Darfur Now, S.O.P. (Standard Operating Procedure), Errol Morris’ upcoming documentary on Abu Ghraib, the recently released, critically acclaimed Angels in the Dust, and last year’s Oscar winning documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, directed by Davis Guggenheim.

Prior to joining Participant in October 2005, Weyermann was the Director of the Sundance Institute's Documentary Film Program. During her tenure at Sundance, she was responsible for the Sundance Documentary Fund, a program supporting documentary films dealing with contemporary human rights, social justice, civil liberties, and freedom of expression from around the world. She launched two annual documentary film labs, focusing on the creative process –

one dealing with editing and storytelling, and the other with music. Diane was also part of the Sundance Film Festival programming team, where she was instrumental in creating a platform for international documentary work and responsible for programming the documentary content of the Filmmaker Lodge activities.

Weyermann’s work in the documentary and international fields extends many years prior to Sundance. She was the Director of the Open Society Institute New York's Arts and Culture Program for seven years. In addition to her work with contemporary art centers and culture programs in the Soros Foundation network, which spans over thirty countries, she launched the Soros Documentary Fund (which later became the Sundance Documentary Fund) in 1996. Since the inception of the Fund, she has been involved with the production of over three hundred documentary films from around the world.

OMAR AMANAT (Executive Producer) is a philanthropist and entrepreneur Named one of Wall Street's "Top Ten Most Influential Technologists" Mr Amanat was a pioneer in the electronic brokerage industry. He began his entrepreneurial career at Datek Online, one of the pioneers in online brokerage services which was sold to Ameritrade for $1.3 billion. He left Datek to co-found CyberBlock and co-designed the trading platform CyberTrader, which was acquired by Charles Schwab in 2000 for $488 million.

Most recently he was the founder, CEO and majority shareholder of Tradescape Corporation, which was one of the largest electronic brokerage firms in the United States (by trading volume) in 2002 when he sold it to E*Trade for $280 million, becoming E*Trade's largest shareholder. Recipient of the prestigious Albert P. Einstein Technology award for outstanding corporate citizenship and sits on numerous boards including the Board of Trustees for the Harlem Youth Development Foundation, Human Rights Watch, the Rubin Museum of Art and is co-founder of the Alliance of Civilizations Media Fund. 

He is a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations, a Trustee of the Democratic National Committee, and was recently the Vice Chairman of the Acumen Fund, which was named one of the 5 Charities changing the face of Global Philanthropy" by Barron's. 

Amanat recently began to explore using the power of film to achieve social change and >n 2005 became Co-Founder and the Founding Chairman of Groundswell Productions a $200 million feature film production company. He is also a Founding Board Member of Summit Entertainment-a domestic and international studio which recently raised $1 billion from Merrill Lynch.

In the last two years, Mr. Amanat has been the Executive Producer on several motion picture projects including the this years Toronto Film Festival's opening film The Visitor, as well as the upcoming Miramax release Smart People, and The Mysteries of Pittsburgh as well as Darfur Now.  He is also the co-founder of a $1.3 billion hedge fund based in New York and Greenwich, CT.


MATT PALMIERI (Executive Producer) is CEO of FilmHaven, an independent film production and financing company where he is currently developing a number of projects including an adaptation of Wallace Stegner's "Remembering Laughter."  Palmieri was a Senior VP at MGM where he participated in the development, production, financing, and distribution of numerous motion pictures including Thelma & Louise, The Russia House, and Benny & Joon.  Palmieri was nominated for an Academy Award for directing and producing “Cruise Control” starring Sean Penn.  Prior to his career in film, Mr. Palmieri worked as a management consultant for McKinsey & Company where he specialized in the media and finance businesses.  Mr. Palmieri attended Phillips Academy Andover, Stanford University, and Harvard Business School.

GARY GREENEBAUM (Executive Producer)
Rabbi Gary Greenebaum is the U.S. Director of Interreligious Affairs for the American Jewish Committee.  From 1990-2006 he served as  the Western Regional Director of AJC, an organization dedicated to protecting human rights and religious freedom in the U.S. and around the world.  In that capacity he helped to secure initial funding for Darfur Now from the Righteous Persons Foundation and to interest Warner Independent in producing and distributing the film.  In his current role at AJC he is working to involve Muslim, Christian and Jewish groups, both nationally and locally in developing activists to end the genocide in Darfur.

 

Long active in social policy issues himself, Rabbi Greenebaum served as the President of the Los Angeles Police Commission in the wake of the Rodney King beating, working to reform the LAPD.  He has also served as a member of the Board of Governors of the State Bar of California, as a member of the board of Rebuild L.A., and the Multicultural Collaborative.  He has also been deeply involved in international relations, and his efforts to build bridges between the Jewish community and the French government led to his being presented the French National Order of Merit in April 2006 by H.E. Jean-David Levitte, Ambassador of France to the United States.

 

DEAN SCHRAMM (Executive Producer) is a literary agent in Los Angeles, California representing writers, directors and producers in film and television including Ted Braun, the writer/director of Darfur Now.  Dean is also a member of the Darfur Task Force of the American Jewish Committee Los Angeles on whose Executive Board he also serves.  In those capacities, Dean was one of the principal organizers of the Los Angeles Darfur Observance Day lead by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and many other political and religious leaders culminating in an interreligious service at the famed First AME Church of Los Angeles attended by over 1000 people.  In addition, in connection with the work of the AJC’s Darfur Task Force, Dean had an idea to create a documentary film project on the issue and sought out his client, Ted Braun, to see if Ted might be interested in developing such a project, the ultimate result of which is Darfur Now.

 

Dean received a B.A. from Amherst College and a J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School.  He is married to Los Angeles City Councilmember and President Pro Tempore of the Los Angeles City Council, Wendy Greuel.  They have one son, Thomas.

 

LENORE ZERMAN (Co-Producer) started Crescendo Productions with partners Don Cheadle and Kay Liberman in 2005.   Darfur Now marks their first film.  They are currently in production on Traitor, starring Cheadle and Guy Pearce and have several other projects in development. Lenore is also a partner in Liberman Zerman Management, the firm she started 13 years ago with Kay Liberman.  Together they have represented Cheadle, Ryan Stiles, Julie Bowen, Doug Savant and others.

Before joining the entertainment business as an assistant and then agent at The Bauman Hiller Agency, Lenore was the President of Corporate Fundraising for Carnegie Hall during its historic renovation project.  After graduating from University of Michigan with a degree in English,  she co-founded Limelight Editions, a book publishing company specializing in books on the performing arts. 

EDGAR BURCKSEN, A.C.E. (Editor)

Edgar Burcksen, A.C.E. moved to California in 1985 after a successful career in The Netherlands as a feature film editor with more than 15 features and a Dutch Film Festival Award for his body of work to his credit.  In California, he became supervising editor of “Seabert,” a Saturday Morning Cartoon for French television, later acquired and televised by HBO. After the completion of 52 episodes he was hired by Colossal Pictures in San Francisco where he set up the editorial department and collaborated on numerous commercials for Levi's, Budweiser, Disney, etc. and music videos for The Grateful Dead and Thomas Dolby.

 

Brucksen’s prowess in visual effects was noticed by ILM and they hired him to become the visual effects editor on The Hunt for Red October (1990) and later Diehard 2 (1990). As one of the early fans of non-linear editing he became an expert in the use of the Editdroid, George Lucas' invention to pull editing out of the dark ages of film. When Lucas started his production of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles (1992), he asked Edgar Burcksen to set up the post production for his prestigious TV series and also to become one of the editors. His collaboration with George Lucas on Young Indiana Jones and the Curse of the Jackal (1992) earned him an Emmy for best editing in 1992. Soon after, Brucksen served as editor and post production supervisor on "500 Nations" (1995) an 8 hour documentary miniseries about Native Americans hosted and produced by Kevin Costner.

 

A background in visual effects and a fluency in the German language brought him Star Command (1996) a pilot for UPN, produced by Paramount in Berlin, Germany. In 1996 he edited Colors Straight Up (1997) which was nominated for Best Documentary Feature at the Academy Awards®.  The feature film Lunker Lake (1997) won at the Santa Clarita Family Film Festival and his teaming up with actor/director Jeroen Krabbé on the feature Left Luggage (1998) with Isabella Rossellini, Maximilian Schell, Chaim Topol and Marianne Saegebrecht brought 4 prestigious awards at the Berlin Film Festival in 1998. The National Council on Crime and Delinquency awarded him the 1998 Pass Award for his work on No Salida (1998). In Search of Peace (2000), a documentary about the peace process in Israel for the Simon Wiesenthal Center, The Hollywood Sign (2001) with Burt Reynolds, Tom Berenger and Rod Steiger and Santa Who? (2000) (with Leslie Nielsen) for Disney followed.

 

The documentaries In Search of Peace (2001, for the Wiesenthal Center), The Bituminous Coal Queens of Pennsylvania (2005) produced by David Hunt and Patricia Heaton and Borrowing Time (2006) were complimented with the feature films Purple Heart (2005) about the Iraq war with William Sadler and Mel Harris, the teen dramedy School of Life (2005) with Ryan Reynolds and David Paymer, the family film The Tillamook Treasure (2006), the action film Road house 2  and the tense drama Brothers Three, An American Gothic (2007) with John Heard, Patrick Wilson and Neal McDonough. Burcksen's diverse experience over the complete spectrum of film genres made him director's Ted Braun first choice to execute his innovative ideas to edit Darfur Now (2007).

 

Edgar Burcksen is a member of ACE, the editors Guild and the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. In 2001 he became the Editor in Chief of CinemaEditor, the official magazine of ACE.  He is fluent in English, German, French and Dutch.

LEONARD FEINSTEIN (Editor) has worked in documentaries for 28 years.  He has edited National Geographic Specials, programs for Nova, American Masters, and The American Experience, as well as the acclaimed PBS series, Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth, and has edited several children’s specials for HBO.  Many of the films he edited were honored with Emmy, Peabody and IDA awards.  His film Robert Irwin: The Beauty of Questions, which he directed and edited, was honored the Grand Prize at the 1998 International Biennale of Films on Art in Paris.  He was profiled by the Los Angeles Times Magazine, which featured his recent film, Inhaling the Spore: A Journey through the Museum of Jurassic Technology.

KIRSTEN JOHNSON (Director of Photography) has worked as a cinematographer with directors such as Raoul Peck, Barbara Kopple, Michael Moore, Gini Reticker, and Kirby Dick. Her cinematography is featured in Academy Award-nominated “Aslyum,” Emmy-winning “Ladies First,” Farenheit 9/11, and Sundance premiere documentaries, This Film Not Yet Rated, American Standoff, and Derrida. Her most recent documentary, Deadline, (co-directed with Katy Chevigny), premiered at Sundance in 2004 and won the Thurgood Marshall Award.  Her previous documentary as a director, Innocent Until Proven Guilty, premiered at the Berlin Film Festival and was broadcast on HBO in1999. Kirsten Johnson’s feature film script “My Habibi” was selected for the 2006 Sundance Writer’s Lab and Director’s Lab.

GRAEME REVELL (Composer) first appeared on the film scoring scene with his chilling score to the Australian thriller Dead Calm, he has gone on to score films for such high-profile directors as John Woo, Wim Wenders, Robert Rodriguez, Ted Demme and Michael Mann.  Born in Auckland, New Zealand in 1955, Revell graduated from the University of Auckland with degrees in economics and politics. 

A keen observer of both traditional ethnic music and natural sound, Revell started his scoring career after picking up on rhythms in patient vocalizations at an Australian hospital for the mentally ill, where he was working as an orderly. He incorporated recordings of the patients into his music in an early example of the creative use of sound, which would become a hallmark of his later work in motion pictures. His experiments with recordings of insects and industrial machinery led him to create the early industrial band SPK.  Cinematic theatrics were an essential part of their live show, with early performances featuring slides and films of surgery, and the use of flame-throwers and oil drums.  The band’s unusual sound convinced directors George Miller and Philip Noyce to employ him on Dead Calm, on which he created a riveting atmosphere of panic and menace with hoarse breathing effects, tribal percussion and sampled choir. The music won Revell an Australian Oscar for best score.

For the end-of-the-Millenium thriller Strange Days he blended New Age effects with Middle Eastern sounds. Ghostly female vocals, piano and strings provided an appropriately ethereal, classically elegiac atmosphere for the visually dazzling cult thriller The Crow, for which Revell also collaborated with Jane Siberry on the ballad “It Can’t Rain All the Time.” He wrote a high-powered score in the classic horror mode for Robert Rodriguez’s South of the Border vampire film From Dusk Till Dawn, and has also proven himself more than capable of working in the swashbuckling style of Korngold and John Williams when the occasion demands it.

Heavy industrial rhythms colored the mindset of Leonardo DiCaprio on The Basketball Diaries, while Revell enlivened the New Orleans setting of John Woo’s Hard Target with a mix of bluesy jazz and striking vocal attacks over orchestral action licks; he traveled to Japan to employ traditional Kodo drummers in the score. He delicately accompanied the suburban setting of The Hand That Rocks the Cradle with a beautiful low-key melody for flute and strings, and brought a canny understanding of both the youth and mystical elements that drove the quirky witchcraft story The Craft.  One of his most unique efforts is the deeply lyrical Until The End of the World, which mixes drifting, classically-tinged orchestral textures with whale-like sounds and the voices of Papua-New Guinea tribesmen, and Revell resumed his collaboration with Dead Calm director Philip Noyce for the big-budget cinematic adaptation of The Saint.

Graeme Revell won the award for best music at the Venice Film Festival for his score to Wayne Wang’s film Chinese Box.  He also completed the pulsating action score for the Samuel Jackson/Kevin Spacey suspense film The Negotiator and worked on Edward Zwick’s intelligent examination of terrorism, The Siege, Michael Mann’s The Insider, and the Warner Bros. science fiction thriller Mars: Red Planet before completing two dramas for Carl Franklin, High Crimes and Out of Time.

In addition to scoring for the dark dramas for which he is known, Revell has shown remarkable diversity in other genres, including the Disney comedy, Double Take, Ted Demme’s Blow, David Twohy’s WWII military thriller, Below and Michael Gondry’s comical examination of the trappings of desire in a world where both nature and culture are idealized, Human Nature.  His widest audiences have found him scoring such blockbusters as Paramount’s monster hit Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, Andrew Davis’ action thriller, Collateral Damage and Fox’s Daredevil. 

Proving that his sound can successfully cross both genres and platforms, Revell scored the first season of CSI: Miami, helping it to become an instant hit for CBS and Jerry Bruckheimer. Revell’s work can be heard in the Mickey Rourke vignette for Robert Rodriguez’s adaptation of Frank Miller’s graphic novel series, Sin City reteaming with Rodriguez shortly thereafter for Shark Boy and Lava Girl in 3D and Grindhouse: Planet Terror.

Most recently, Graeme Revell composed the score to Gregory Nava’s upcoming crime-drama Bordertown, starring Jennifer Lopez, as well as Warner Independent’s political documentary Darfur Now.

"Darfur Now" Index

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2007 Film Entertainment Magazine / EMOL.org. All rights reserved.

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In April 2006 veteran journalist Nick Clooney was asked by his son, George, to accompany him to the troubled region of Darfur. The goal was to shine a light on the modern day genocide occurring in this remote and desolate region of Africa. They went unannounced; without press, without escort and without security, just Nick, George and cameraman, Mike Herron, a personal friend. This documentary is an account of their journey, the stories of unimaginable violence that have befallen the Darfurians and the courage of the aid workers who struggle to provide relief to two hundred thousand refugees. The documentary also provides background on the crises and the efforts of individuals and groups to stand up and say, "Not on our watch!"

100% of AmericanLife TV's proceeds on the sale of this DVD go to www.notonourwatchproject.org. NOOW was created by George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Don Cheadle and Jerry Weintraub to support existing humanitarian relief efforts and to ensure the protection of civilians in Darfur.

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