"We've said 'Never again' again and again and again," Brian Steidle tells a D.C. rally held by the Save Darfur Coalition in The Devil Came on Horseback. And part of what makes this documentary such an interesting twist on the usual crisis-zone media alerts is Steidle's wavering between hope and hopelessness, his own struggle to figure out what to do about the genocide he bore witness to. Fresh out of the Marines, Steidle took a job monitoring the cease-fire that ended 20 years of civil war in Sudan. But the government in Khartoum, run by Arabs, only pretended to lay down its arms. Instead, it began a systematic campaign to destroy the western region of Darfur using bands of mercenaries known as Jangaweed - "the devil on a horse." Hundreds of thousands of men, women and children were brutally murdered, millions more chased out of their homes. And Steidle, armed only with a camera, saw it all happen.
That camera would turn out to be more effective than a Marine battalion. Or would it? Directed by Annie Sundberg and Ricki Stein, The Devil Came on Horseback documents both the atrocities committed by the Arab rulers on Sudan's black-African population and Steidle's own campaign to get the world to notice, using the hundreds of photographs he took. But the world seems to have other things on its mind. Speeches are given, votes are taken, resolutions are passed, and the wholesale slaughter continues. As a record of a moral disaster, The Devil Came on Horseback will have to take its place alongside all the other records of moral disasters. But as the record of a man who desperately wanted to do something, having had to stand by and watch whole villages go up in smoke, it plunges us deep into the heart of darkness, where there's a black void, our inability to care.