Directed by Fernando Meirelles
Written by Eric Roth & Tony Kushner
Music by Thomas Newman
Produced by Don Cheadle and George Clooney
Louis Gossett Jr. (Jela)
Djimon Hounsou (Usutu)
Morgan Freeman (Tedros)
Don Cheadle (Wekesa)
Regina King (Binta)
C.J. Sanders (Malik)
Keke Palmer (Adeola)
Jaden Smith (Abasi)
Jesse L. Martin (Vuai)
Angela Basset (Lisha)
Chiwetel Ejiofor (Iniko)
Sharon Warren (Deka)
Derek Luke (Manu)
Loretta Devine (Olabisi))
Tagline: “Bravery is the Ability to Remember"
Synopsis: Spoken entirely in Nilo-Saharan, this emotional drama is a warning about the current genocide in Sudan. The story begins with Jela, who leads a peaceful tribe of farmers just outside of Darfur. His son Wekesa, and his daughter-in-law, Binta, have provided him with three beautiful grandchildren: Malik, Adeola and Abasi. The other members of the tribe, Vuai and Lisha the planters, Hasina and Iniko the water providers and Manu and Olabisi, the harvesters, have become like family to them, and life seems at peace. Though they are well aware that a mere 20 miles away, a government funded militia called Janajaweed is kidnapping and raping young girls and women and extinguishing boys and men, they also know that if they try to help, they will end up with the same fate. So they continue a farming lifestyle, doing what they can to avoid the problem. On a normal day in the fields, Jela encounters a man named Usutu, who explains that he is a victim of an attempted killing, and that he needs a place to hide before he is found. Shortly after that, Janajaweed begins to move into a broader and broader range…
The first to go is Olabisi, the harvester, who has a totaled car dropped on her by an airplane. When the militia suspends their food and water supply, the tribe is faced with a choice: die of thirst in the desert as they travel to the nearest city or die by genocide in the heart of Darfur. In a choice that usually only Jela could make, Usutu takes the responsibility to decide that it is best to go into the city because they will be able to find aid there. Although he is suspicious about Usutu’s intentions for the tribe, Jela reluctantly concurs with him and they head out. Once there, they find that it was a mistake to come, as the entire city is becoming extinct. Manu, Deka and Iniko die just on the first day…
Usutu soon finds a deserted cave for the tribe to live in until he can find some aid. As that happens, Jela starts to become envious of Usutu and concerned that he will take over the tribe. However, when he accuses him of such things, Jela is banished from the tribe for “shameless attempts to continue a dictatorship.” After that, Wekesa takes over, as part of an agreement previously decided by the tribe…
Jela is now without a home and a tribe. Corruption is ruling the streets, and if he can’t find a shelter, his death will be imminent. A few days later, when he is hungry and thirsty, he stumbles upon Tedros. Tedros has never had a cent to his name his entire life, and he lives in a hole in the ground. Jela begins to live with and befriend him, and they together hatch a plan to take back the tribe that Jela loved. The question is: will he be back to see them alive?
On a normal afternoon, Wekesa and Usutu go out hunting. It is an irregularly long trip, and raises some eyebrows in the tribe. Binta goes out to look for her husband and sees him being murdered by her leader. She sprints back to inform the others, but suffers the same fate on her way there. Now, the only members in the tribe that have survived are the ones who have always blindly followed Usutu. He leads them into the largest and most dangerous part of the town…
Tedros and Jela decide that they will simply go back to his tribe. But, when he arrives there, he realizes that they have already left. Jela is frantic, and begins to run around the town looking for everyone. When he finds them, it is a painful reunion, as he sees the remaining members tied up to a tree, about to be killed. He discovers that Usutu is a member of Janajaweed, and was sent to kill his tribe. He rushes to them, desperate to do anything to save them, but he is powerless. Each one was killed casually, without any guilt or doubt from the murderers. Jela and Tedros are faced against Usutu, who is armed and ready to exterminate. He asks Jela if he thinks he stands a chance. All he can reply with is “no.”
What the press would say:
The new film “Saviors” is not shocking. It’s terrifying. It’s not sad. It’s tragic. It’s not good. It’s a masterpiece.
Produced by Darfur activists Don Cheadle and George Clooney and directed by the brilliant Fernando Meirelles, the new film about genocide in Sudan is the most influential movie since “Schindler’s List.” The actors spent ten months learning the Nilo-Saharan language (however, the film still can be not nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars because it was made by Americans), and break the language barrier to give some of the finest performances of the year. 3 to be exact. First is Morgan Freeman as the heartfelt Tedros. Though he has only about 30 minutes of screen-time, he makes every second count in this powerful and simply extraordinary performance. Djimon Hounsou plays Usutu, a suspicious member of the tribe. His performance alone brings rawness and tension into the film, which assures him a spot on Hollywood’s A-list. The best performance of the film (and the year), though, is that of Louis Gosset Jr, as Jela, the leader of the tribe. Not only does he drive the movie and keep us on the edge of our seats, but he also provides the film with fine details. He makes small choices, such as his always quick walk and wide-open eyes that do more for his character and the entire movie than anything else could.
This film gets its message across clearly and thoroughly, which is to do anything that one can to save this dying culture. But, that does not mean that it lacks a good story. “Saviors” is one of the only films of its sort that I’ve seen where they focus on telling a story more than being politically correct and noble. The characters feel natural things like jealousy, suspicion and greed, which makes us want to assist them more. So many movies like this spend all its time portraying the heroes as flawless human beings. While that makes us want to help them, what is more effective is if the protagonists are portrayed as regular people, which makes us relate to them and thus want to root for and save them. “Saviors” is one of the few films that are wise enough to know that.
Half of all the profits for “Saviors” went to the Save Darfur Coalition, and now, in order to raise awareness, the coalition has begun a campaign for the film. It is hoping to receive nominations in the following categories…
Best Picture (Don Cheadle & George Clooney)
Best Director (Fernando Meirelles)
Best Actor (Louis Gosset Jr. & Djimon Hounsou)
Best Supporting Actor (Morgan Freeman)
Best Original Screenplay (Eric Roth & Tony Kushner)
Best Original Score (Thomas Newman)
Best Film Editing
If you are interested in making a donation, visit www.savedarfur.org.