The Devil Came on Horseback
Directed, written and produced by filmmakers Annie Sundberg and Rikki Stern, The Devil Came on Horseback follows the experience of former Marine Captain, Brian Steidle and his experiences in monitoring the peace agreement between northern and southern Sudan, his following of the developing humanitarian crisis in Sudan’s western Dafur region and his subsequent work to compel the international community towards action to stop the genocide taking place and the crimes against humanity.
It begins by introducing us to Brian’s move into the military, a natural move considering his upbringing in a military home. Upon completing his obligated four years in the marines, Brian went looking for something else as he did not want to take a desk job and eventually took a job monitoring the ceasefire between northern and southern Sudan in 2004.
The Devil Came on Horseback gives us a glimpse into Brian’s growing interaction with the events taking place in Darfur, a genocide run by the Sudanese government and carried out in union between the Sudanese military and a militia group called the Janjaweed who were/are funded, supplied and trained by the Sudanese government and military.
We are introduced to Brian’s documented evidence of the genocide – graphic images of the violence and interviews with people from the Darfur region.
It is a documentary showing one man’s frustration with the events, his inability to stop them and his frustration with lack of action amongst the international community even in the face of his evidence that includes hundreds of graphic images.
Early emails to his sister show his optimism over how he believed the international community would act if they saw the evidence that he was seeing – images of things like young girl’s who had been shackled and burned alive in a girl’s school and their families who had been burned alive trying to save them.
Over the course of the documentary, that optimism is destroyed as he discovers the reality of politics and international relations.
One cannot help but watch this documentary, hear the evidence, listen to the stories, see the harrowing images and then share in Brian’s frustration and anger. The inhumanity up for viewing in this documentary is extreme and not for the faint hearted, but it’s a conflict everyone needs to gain an understanding of.
The imagery is gritty, shocking and compelling. The documentary feels unrelenting, showing us a harsh land filled with tales of extreme inhumanity. It’s not the sort of thing that should be viewed before bedtime and it should leave you thinking about it for much time following the initial watching. Most of all, it should compel you towards action, whatever you can do.
This is a humanitarian disaster we cannot ignore and The Devil Came on Horseback does not allow you the option of ignorance. After watching it you will walk away with a better understanding of the basics of the situation, a confusion at how people can lose their humanity and commit such acts, probably a sense of helplessness, but in that, hopefully you will realise that you can help change the situation It is a must watch.
For more information on the current situation in Darfur, goto: hcweb.org
Reviewed by: Frank Ritchie.
Rating: Not Available.
Duration: 87 mins.
Director: Annie Sundberg and Rikki Stern.
Release Date: Available now.