When Brian Steidle immersed himself in the conflict between rebels and the Sudanese government, he had no idea the atrocities he would witness.
As a former Marine infantry officer, Steidle served for six months in Darfur as an unarmed military observer and U.S. representative to the African Union. He collected exclusive footage of the crisis, including direct interviews with some of the refugees. Steidle's experiences are revealed in the documentary The Devil Came on Horseback.
"This is an incredible story of a young man who's turned inside-out because of what he saw, the inhumanity of it," says Annie Sundberg (pictured right), co-director of the film.
The Sudanese conflict started in 2003, when rebels in the Darfur region attacked the existing government. Intent on reprisal, the government turned a group of nomadic herdsmen called the Janjaweed against the rebels. The Janjaweed were given weapons and allowed to maim, torture and kill villages of civilians for their land.
"The problem with a film like this is it creates a sense of hopelessness and despair," says Will Stoller-Lee, chair of Windrider 2007, an annual film forum at Colorado College. "The powerful part of the story is the message that one person can make a difference."
The conflict is also fueled by ethnic tension among the Sudanese tribes, with the government targeting groups of people based on their ethnicity.
Stoller-Lee says the film "leaves people asking, 'What can I do to impact this situation positively?'"
Presently, there are U.S. and U.N. Security Council sanctions in Sudan. However, peace has not yet been restored; in fact, violence threatens to intensify as the rebel groups multiply.
Sundberg's wish: "I hope people feel a human emotional connection with Brian and are compelled to action."
The Devil Came on Horseback screening and Q&A as part of the Windrider Forum
CC's Armstrong Theatre, inside Armstrong Hall, 14 E. Cache la Poudre St.
Thursday, July 19, 7 p.m.
Tickets: $10, $5 with a CC ID; $50 all-festival pass also available. Call 385-0085 or visit windridercolorado.com for more.