RIGHT NEXT DOOR
In an ironic twist, now that Burch is back in the state he grew up in, his parents, enchanted by Israel on their many visits to see their son, now live there full-time. In a way, Burch muses, it's the closing of a circle that opened decades ago -- when a teenager in search of an identity first asked his mother what exactly it meant to be Jewish.
Where there's a will, there's a way -- even when the situation at hand involves circumventing top-level national secrecy. When the British government some years ago enlisted aircraft design engineer Michael Axon to assess various locations (and design new ones) overseas where the military's planes could be securely built, he did his usual: took detailed notes and precise laser measurements.
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Berends's work put him in great peril back in 2008, when he was detained by the Nigerian government while filming Delta Boys, a firsthand look at rebels in the river oil towns of that resource-rich yet vastly impoverished country -- Africa's most populous. Securing his freedom after 10 days of captivity required the intercession of New York Senators Charles Schumer and Hillary Clinton. He was never in fear for his life, he says -- but his status as a documentarian offered him no particular protection whatsoever, he realized. Delta Boys was released in 2012 having received financing and support from the Sundance Documentary Film Fund, the Gucci/Tribeca Documentary Film Fund and Cinereach. Berends's most recent film, Madina's Dream, provides an unflinching glimpse into a forgotten war as it tells the story of rebels and refugees fighting to survive in Sudan's Nuba Mountains. The film will have its world premiere next month at South By Southwest International Film Festival.