CHICAGO Jan. 16, 2008 (PRIME NEWSWIRE)---Chicago area history teacher Bruce David Janu never intended to make a feature length documentary about the situation in Sudan. But then he met Brian Burns and his life changed.
Burns was sweeping floors on the third shift at John Hersey High School in suburban Arlington Heights when the two crossed paths. They struck up a conversation and when Burns began relating his experiences in Sudan, Janu saw an opportunity for his students.
That chance meeting on a Friday afternoon led not to a speaking engagement in front of a class of freshman, but to a feature documentary entitled, Facing Sudan. The film highlights the situation in that war-torn country, but is uniquely told through the eyes of ordinary individuals who have made a difference there: a suburban housewife, a 73-year-old pediatrician, a grandmother, a high school student, several Sudanese "lost boys" and, of course, Brian Burns.
"I spent two years working on this in my spare time down in the basement," he says. In addition to the long hours, Janu ended up paying for the film using his credit cards.
But he did have help. His subjects supplied much of the footage from Sudan and he discovered two singer/songwriters from Pennsylvania, Tom Flannery and Lorne Clarke, willing to compose an original soundtrack for the film. Passionate about Sudan, the duo contributed songs completely pro bono, including "Crayons and Paper," a heartbreaking song that accompanies drawings made by children from Darfur smuggled out of Sudan by a pediatrician working with Doctors Without Borders.
"Two years ago, if someone said to me that I would be making a documentary about Sudan," says Janu, "I would have told them they were crazy."
Facing Sudan has toured the festival circuit and has received much critical acclaim, including two "best documentary" awards last fall.
The film has now been released on DVD by Bell, Book & Camera Productions with several deleted scenes, director commentary and a bonus song by Tom Flannery. In addition, Janu has provided lesson plans, hoping that Facing Sudan will fulfill his ultimate goals: education and awareness.
“Anyone can make a difference in this world,” he says. “Especially if you know what’s going on. As more people know about Sudan, the more likely something will be done.”
Press kit, artwork and photos from the film are available at http://www.facingsudan.com/sudan.html
Bruce David Janu
Bell, Book & Camera Productions