B'nai Darfur (Sons of Darfur)

Topics: POLITICS, Human Rights
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Funds Needed for Completion: $ 150,000.00
Estimated Completion Date: 10/28/2009


This documentary will attempt to capture the refugees' journey, from their entrance through the desert in Israel guided by Bedouins, to their final status as refugees, showing their experiences as black Muslims within Israeli citizenry. The work will expose the conflicting positions within the views of Israeli politicians and civil society, faced with the reality of black Muslims in the Jewish homeland, and their own history of persecution and genocide which mirrors that of the refugees.

Bnai Darfur is a feature-length documentary that shows the predicaments of Black Muslim refugees from Darfur who flee genocide from the central government in Sudan. Some flee to Egypt, only to find discrimination and harassment by the authorities,and even death by fellow Muslims in Cairo. A few thousands cross the Sinai Desert to neighboring Israel, looking for political asylum in spite of their religious beliefs and coming from a declared enemy of Israel.


$ 150,000.00

Project's Financial Needs

Air tickets and accommodation in Israel, Egypt and Chad for two; camera and vehicle rentals, archival footage fees , music license fees, tape stock, editor, narrator, DSR25VTR rental, audio design and mixing, color correction, promotion and distribution.

Other financial Support

We are in the process of applying for funds to various foundations and private donors.

Current stage of production


Estimated Completion Date



Due to the Egyptian influence on the process of its independence since its beginning, Sudan has been ruled by an Arab elite that is friendly with and share many cultural characteristics, such as religion and ethnicity, with its neighbors to the north. However, the majority of Sudan’s population is African Blacks, mostly Muslim, who have been historically discriminated against by the central government, in all social and economical arenas. In 2003 in the Western region of Darfur, in their plight for justice and political involvement, Black militants attacked members of the Sudanese army. In response, the Sudanese army bombed villages and the armed militia known as the Janjaweed began a wanton destruction of crops and hundred of villages, murdering men and raping women. After five years there is still no end in sight.
According to a report by US government on April 2008, about 400,000 people have been killed and 2.2 million have been displaced. Refugees have been fleeing to big cities and neighboring countries such as Chad and Egypt, seeking safety. In Egypt, the situation of the Sudanese refugees is dire; they lack basic rights, are on the verge of starvation, and suffer from frequent harassment by the authorities and civilians alike.

According to an UNHCR official (UN High Commission for Refugees) interviewed for this documentary, the wave of refugees into Israel increased in 2005 after a notorious incident in Cairo, when during a demonstration, Egyptian police opened fire indiscriminately on the crowd, killing 24 Sudanese refugees and wounding many others. Others were deported back to Sudan to face certain persecution. Since this incident, the number of African refugees crossing on foot through the desert into Southern Israel has increased dramatically, from several hundred in 2006, to more than 5,000 last year, and already about 2,200 in the first part of 2008.

.In 2007, 48 Sudanese migrants were deported back to Egypt where some were arrested and went missing, while others were sent back to Sudan to find certain persecution or death. Due to Israeli public outcry, the policy was promptly dropped and instead, temporary residency was given to around 600 Darfurians, an acknowledgement of the horror of the genocide they had escaped.

The USA has declared that the situation is a genocide, and the International Court in The Hague has charged with genocide the President of Sudan, Omar el-Bashir. Nonetheless, no nation has intervened to stop the carnage and the central government continues with its policy of ethnic cleansing.

Observers believe that the killings are escalating, despite a US-brokered peace agreement in January 2005. The Israeli government fears that Israel will be swamped by refugees. According to Israeli human rights organizations this fear is questionable, as the number of Sudanese in Egypt is limited, and crossing the Sinai to infiltrate into Israel is extremely difficult. (Sourses: Hotline for Migrant Workers Report, Interviews Wikipedia, International Crisis Group, Jerusalem Post)


The documentary is in pre-production stage, although shooting has begun at the rally for the refugees of Darfur in Tel Aviv (April 13, 2008), and in Amsterdam at the Genocide Seminar (May 21-26, 2008). We will begin production on November 2008, and continue through May 2009. Post-production will follow immediately after, with completion planned by October 2009.

Pre-production (April - December 2008) Fundraising, Research on refugees camps in Chad and Darfurian communities resident in Egypt and Israel.Develop contacts with scholars, politicians, and refugees.Establish contacts with distribution channels.

Production (December 2008 - May 2009)Continue fundraising.Continue contacts with distribution channels.Equipment rentals.Production in USA (interviews), Chad, Egypt and Israel.
Post-production (May - October 2009)Logging,Translation of interviews, Assembly and rough cut.Rough cut/Fine cut review.Online edit.Submission to film festivals.Copies production and distribution to Universities and organization of interest. Release: (October 2009)


In its early stages, Bnai Darfur shows in a video journalism style the life and accounts of the Darfurians settled in the refugee camps in Chad. The description of the persecution by the government's militia and the Janjaweed, the burning of villages, rape, murder and plundering is conveyed to the audience through the dramatic personal accounts of the refugees supported by archival footage. A bird's-flight view shows the immensity and isolation of these camps. Intercepted with these dramatic accounts, under the voice-over of the refugees, in a “racconto” mode, archival footage chronicles the burnings of villages, exposing the Janjaweed on horses and camels plundering and lighting fire to the Darfurian's habitats. Archival footage also shows the corpses of victims and entire villages in fire and ashes.
Later in the production, in the same rhythm of video journalism, our cameras show the Darfurian enclaves in Cairo and follows their lives and predicaments in the environment they face on a daily basis. At this stage, the documentary turns into a cinema-verite, character-driven narrative, delving into the daily experiences of the refugees in their homes and their struggle for survival.
In a juxtaposition of scenes over the central narrative, the film incorporates a series of academic interviews that address important historical subjects to be developed in the documentary, such as: the statement of US officials declaring the actions of the Sudan militia as genocidal; remarks by analysts on the functioning of the UN General Assembly and the reasons why is nothing being done; Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Price Elie Wiesel commentary on the situation in Darfur and genocide in general, and Stanford professor Joel Brinkley shedding light on these subjects.In emotional scenes, the film depicts Darfurians crossing the Egypt-Israeli border in the desert, accompanied by Bedouins, and their interception by Israeli soldiers. From this point on the narrative shifts to one of character-development, showing chosen refugees in the process of achieving political asylum in Israel.
The heart of the documentary is revealed as we take our cinema-verite narrative into the homes of the asylum seekers, working places and to their interaction with the Israeli nationals in contrasting settings. Weddings, traditional Sudanese celebrations, religious worship, music and ancestral Black African culture is presented in dramatic contrast, although interlaced with the modern European Israeli way of life.

Production Personnel

Melitta Tchaicovsky (Producer/Director) is a photographer and filmmaker born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Tchaicovsky earned her B.A in Visual Communication at the State University of Rio de Janeiro. Her photographic work has been published and exhibited in the US, Switzerland, Spain, Israel and Brazil. As a filmmaker she co-directed and documented the river Ganges in the award winning “Ganga MA: A Pilgrimage to the Source”. She was co-creator of the award winning “Jaisalmer Ayo! Gateway of the Gypsies”. Recently she completed a short documentary titled "Warriors of the Rainbow", broadcast on Channel 28, Berkeley, California and coproduced a short documentary that won 2nd prize at the 2006 Marin County National Festival, titled Aphrodesia Just Vote Tour, a documentary which takes the audience on a biofuel powered bus ride from San Francisco to New York.

Pepe Ozan (Producer/Director) is a filmmaker, sculptor and designer born in Argentina. He earned a B.A in Social Sciences at the University of Buenos Aires. Since his arrival in San Francisco in l975 he has produced a large body of work in various fields of the visual arts. In the 90s he created six opera productions for the Burning Man Art Festival in Nevada, that through the years grew to host 200 dancers and 30 musicians performing for an audience of 3000 plus people. In 2006 he was selected by the City of San Francisco to produce a public sculpture for the India Basin Park. As a videographer he has co-produced and directed the award winning "Ganga Ma" (see ut-supra) and directed and produced "Jaisalmer Ayo! Gateway of the Gypsies”. He shot and edited the award winning documentary "The Birdman", on a loner homeless philosopher, lover of wild city animals, and the short "2004 Just Vote tour" documenting a trip from San Francisco to NY, promoting voting and alternative fuels.

Kevin Pina (Editor) is a documentary producer, filmmaker and editor with over 25 years of experience in those fields. His film credits as a producer include "El Salvador: In the Name of Democracy (1985), "Berkeley in the Sixties" (1990), and Amazonia: Voices of the rain forest" (1990). Pina's directorial credits include "Haiti: Harvest of Hope" (1997) and "Haiti: The UNtold Story" (2005). Pina has also worked as a freelance editor for several acclaimed documentary projects.

What Your Donation Enables:

Screen Credit as a donor $250.00
Premium Screen Credit $500.00
One Day of Shooting $250.00
One day of editing $250.00
A Meal for the Film Crew $25.00
Purchase Sound, Images or Footage
Group Screening and Discussion
Watch dailies or pre-production rough cuts online
A box of Digital Video Tapes
Private Screening

Donors to this project