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Darfur United

A film by Paolo Casalis, written with G. Stauring & A. Cravero
Available mid-2017

Produced by    :   Stuffilm
Genre    :   Documentary, Sport, Football, Bio, Africa
Duration    :   70'

When Gabriel Stauring landed in Chad for the first time, in 2005, he couldn’t imagine he would have founded a football team able to compete
for the World Cup.
Today, his attempts to end a 10-years long documentary project about all-refugee team Darfur United become a film-within-the-film and the metaphor of a 10-years long and unclosed migrant crisis, now more actual than ever.
An happy and winning story with a bitter taste, as the film, and football itself, are the only possible key to raise international attention on Darfur.

In Collaboration with Darfur United i-ACT
Under the Patronage of Darfur United Under the Patronage of Intalians for Darfur
With the Interest of Darfur United with the interest of UNHCR

We're currently working at the production phase. The film will be out in mid-2017, in DVD and Streaming format
Discover how you can help us, what we need and what you get on the film's Reelhouse page


It is ten years now that Gabriel Stauring, US citizen and founder of ONG i-ACT, is working on the project of a documentary film. Though he’s not a film director, he has collected hours of shootings, building a full line up of characters and a detailed treatment.
In 2005 Gabriel moved to Africa for the first time, to give his help to more than 280.000 refugees from Darfur who had settled in the refugee camps of Chad. This unheard-of humanitarian crisis still continues today, though it has never been front-page news nor does it now, as the new Europe migrant crisis is covering all media.
Gabriel soon realized the world was not interested in hearing stories of war, poverty and hunger. To raise attention, he had to search for a unique, positive story, and to share it with the world.
He took an handycam and started filming, soon realizing most of his shootings showed people of all ages playing football, everywhere, with any weather condition, without shoes, on inconceivable football fields and with any kind of ball.
In 2011, to raise attention on Darfur crisis, Gabriel founded Darfur United, a football team made up of refugees from the 12 different camps, and his project became more precise: making a film about Darfur United team.
Since then, he is following with his camera the training and life of his film’s characters: Moubarag and Ismail, team players who now live in Sweden (where they asked for asylum in 2014) or Suleyman and Mubarak, who still live in the refugee camps of Chad.
“Darfur United” has already competed in 2012 and 2014 for the Football World Cup.
No, not the prestigious FIFA World Cup, but the Conifa one, a tournament for unrecognized states and ethnic groups.
But now it’s not a good moment for Darfur United: the film project is at a dead point and the team has not been selected for the World Cup 2016, a bad blow for Gabriel and his friends.
More than ever, his film project looks now like a perfect metaphor of all Darfuri refugee people, in the middle between a success story and a never-ending limbo.
Gabriel wants to react, he wants to organize something even greater and powerful than “Darfur United” football team.

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2-pages Abstract
Full Dossier

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    Years of war
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    Documentary movie
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Discover how you can help us, what we need and what you get on the film's Reelhouse page


Film Characters

We have a unique and challenging occasion, something that rarely happens to a documentarist.
We have a great story that mixes in an original way actual, compelling civil and social themes (war, refugees, migrations, human rights) with sport, passion and hope.
This story would deserve a film by itself, but here we really have something more: the story of Darfur United, the only national football team 100% made of refugees, which started in 2005, has been fully filmed and documented for over 10 years, so that now we have over 300 hours of found footage.
It’s not professional material, it’s more something home-made or semi-professional, but it’s full of passion, humanity and permits us to follow “live” the whole story of Gabriel and the team. But “Darfur United” will not be just a work of video editing, made by mixing images from the past. No.
Simply, Gabriel’s idea of making a film about Darfur United team, and his videos, will remain the hearth of our documen- tary, whose structure will be the one of a “film-within-the-film”.
The film will have the rich, surprising structure of a Matrioska, with a layer of brand new images and a hearth of contents coming from the past.
We think that the mix of these different approaches (journalistic and creative filming, non-professionalm and professional shootings) will led to good, original results in terms of aesthetics and narration.
Gabriel’s film-within-the -film, where many good things have been done but the film still needs to be finished, can be seen as a metaphor of Darfur refugees situation, which is still to be closed, as the emergency has never been finished.
Having Gabriel moving as “interviewer” and “film director” inside the film, we’ll avoid the usage of talking heads: the film will be made of direct dialogues and actions. We’ll follow Gabriel in his friendly meetings with the film characters, and will take advan- tage of his deep and long-lasting friendship with them.
Darfur United is a documentary based on a long story, a 10-years and not finished yet story. Darfur United is NOT a film about soccer, but soccer will have an important narrative and also esthetic role.
Soccer is the powerful glue that keeps 12 different tribes together, and the passion and hope of our characters. Soccer will be the “fil rouge” that keeps the film and its various parts united.
We will not make sportive chronicles, but surely following Darfur United’s matches and tournament will help us to develop our film, from a narrative, emotional and also aesthetical point of view.
Luckily, we have a lot of good quality archival videos for all these events, both from Gabriel Stauring and i-ACT, and from official TVs coverage of soccer matches made by CONIFA.

We’ve chosen to identify 5 Characters (Gabriel, Ismail, Moubarak, Sulyeman, Moubarak Haggar) and (in addition to the existing archival images) to follow them for one year, to tell the evolution of their stories and lives. This will led to unexpected and chang- ing stories, and will transmit this atmosphere of “unexpected” and unwritten story to the film itself.
Will Darfur United team be able to fulfill its dream, hosting an international match in the refugee camps? Will Ismail and Mou- barag be able to come back to Chad? How the story of Darfur United will end, which event will be organized by Gabriel? Darfur United will be mainly shoot in the refugee camps of Chad, but we’ll also have significant movie facts happening in Sweden, where we’ll follow one of the film’s characters.
A third location will be Kurdistan, though if only seen through archival images of the World Cup Darfur disputed in 2012. These different filming locations will generate a film with multiple narrative keys and high narrative and esthetic contrasts.
On one side, we’ll have the cold flats of northern Sweden, the white of a snowy and iced land, and our photography will turn to blue colors and chromatic range.
On the other side, we’ll have the hot refugee camps of Chad, where temperatures are so high that everything seems like going to take fire.
The story will NOT be told in chronological order. As the film structure and the order of events will not be fixed, also our visual approach will be based on unsettling choices, that will be used to emphasize the contrasts and power of our locations.

Our film’s main protagonist is, of course, Darfur United football team.
The Darfur representative football team, also called Darfur United, is an association football team representing Darfur, a region in western Sudan, founded by Gabriel Stauring in 2011. Their players all live in refugee camps in neighbouring Chad.
They have competed in the 2012 VIVA World Cup and the 2014 ConIFA World Football Cup.
Surely, they are not football champions, not at all. They’ve lost all matches 20-0, 30-0, but surely they haven’t lost the will to let people know about the drama of Darfur refugee camps, of their situation and problems.

In early 2003, two primarily Muslim non-Arab Darfuri rebel groups launched a rebellion against the government of Sudan.
The government responded to the rebellion by enlisting the help of some of the nomadic Arab tribes in Darfur, promising them land in exchange for their military allegiance. These groups formed militias known as the Janjaweed, and, with the support of the government, began wreaking havoc throughout Darfur.
Since the conflict began over ten years ago, approximately 300,000 people have lost their lives and an additional 4 million have been displaced from their homes.
Today, there are approximately 300,000 Darfuri refugees living in thirteen camps in Eastern Chad.
Sports programs, physical activity, and psychosocial support for children are all considered “non essential” by the United Nations.

3- i-ACT
i-ACT is a registered 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization based in Redondo Beach, CA
The i-ACT team visits refugee camps in Eastern Chad and provides daily video webcasting, interactive blogging, pictures, and continuous social media communication. Videos, photographs and testimonies from i-ACT are compiled and utilized to create multi-media presentations that build relationships between the survivors of Darfur and those who can act on their behalf.
Since 2005, i-ACT has visited the Darfuri refugee camps on the Chad-Sudan border more than 20 times.
i-ACT has created an all-refugee soccer team and youth academy made up of Darfuri refugees living in camps in Eastern Chad.

Not to be confused with the FIFA World Cup, every two years football players and fans meet for another, less know and almost mysterious Football World Cup.
In the CONIFA World Cup, the participating teams represent a collection of unrecognized states, ethnic groups, islands and “frozen conflict” zones.
Abkhazia, Aramean Suryoye, Kurdistan, Tamil Eelam, Darfur United, Ellan Vannin, South Ossetia, Nagorno Karabakh, Padania, Occitania... These are some of the team names.
Regions or ethnic groups not recognized as a nation, stateless people (es the Romani People team), regions and micro- nations not affiliated to FIFA. Some just want to raise awareness of their unique culture and show the world they exist or, through soccer, raise awareness about humanitarian and social crisis, conflicts and civil wars.
Others hope for greater autonomy and perhaps, one day, even a nation of their own.
“Soccer helps provide an identify for all nations, a vision of their imagined community made real”, writes sport journalist Steve Menary.

Paolo Casalis

Born in Bra (Italy), 1976.
In 2014 he’s author of Barolo Boys. The Story of a Revolution, one of the most successful italian independent documentaries of the year.

Langhe Doc - Stories of heretics in the Italy of warehouses (52’ - 2011)
The Runner (52’ - 2010)
The People of Terra Madre (26’ - 2009)


Stuffilm is a video production house based in Via Principi 6, Bra (CN, Italy) specialized in film productions like feature lenght documentary films.
In our filmography there are documentary movies like Barolo Boys.The Story of a Revolution, Vetro Piano and Langhe Doc. Stories of heretics in the Italy of warehouses, these last two in the nominees for David di Donatello prize, the Oscar for italian documentary movies.


i-ACT is a registered 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization based in Redondo Beach, CA
i-ACT seeks to empower individuals within communities, institutions, and governments to take personal responsibility to act on behalf of those affected by genocide, mass atrocities, and crimes against humanity.