History teacher’s doc “Facing Sudan” explores lives of ordinary people who made a difference

It was a near-chance meeting with his school’s janitor that set Bruce David Janu on the road to producing his first feature documentary, the 90-minute “Facing Sudan.”

Twenty-three year old janitor Brian Burns approached Janu after seeing flyers for the Teens Against Genocide group that Janu sponsors at John Hersey High School in Arlington Heights, where he teaches history.

Burns told Janu about the relief mission he’d volunteered for in Sudan. Janu interviewed Burns on tape, forming the seed for what would become “Facing Sudan.”

Burns provided video footage of Sudan to Janu, who has never been to the country, and introduced him to Sudanese and American interview subjects.

“I chose to present the film through the eyes of these people who have devoted their lives to Sudan, because it shows that you can do something, that this feeling of helplessness is a copout,” Janu said.

Janu interviewed Kenneth Elisapana, a Sudanese native and leader of South Sudan Voices of Hope. It was a talk by Elisapana that first inspired Burns to make the journey to Sudan.