Funded! This project was successfully funded on May 15, 2011.

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The birth of a Nation, told through the eyes of three friends.

I met these three guys while I was covering the recent secession vote in South Sudan this past January. I was struck by their hope, their vision, and their ability to jump from wide-eyed excitement about their new nation to concerns for the future political reality.  Their candor, warmth, and sincerity make them incredibly human.  I find their histories inspiring.

South Sudan Emerging (working title) follows the beginnings of the newest African nation through the eyes of a group of friends.  The film will primarily focus on three men: James, Kuol, and KongKong, who represent many of the questions facing South Sudan’s future.  

Their stories are typical of Southern Sudanese who grew up in the ‘70s and ‘80s: they have only experienced stability within the last couple of years, growing up amid violence, hostility, war, and struggle.  But perhaps even more typical of Southern Sudanese, they have a great hope for their independence and an eagerness for the future.

The film will document these friends over the next couple of years as South Sudan emerges into a sovereign nation and the people there take control of their destiny.

This Kickstarter project will fund the first filming phase of the documentary, including post-production and product distribution, which will take place after independence is officially declared on July 9th. 

While the full feature-length film will require a year or more to shoot, this first phase will result in a short documentary which we plan to run in the film circuit this coming year.

A brief bio on the characters:

James joined the Sudan Peoples Liberation Army at the age of 14 and fought for several years. He now lives in Kampala, Uganda where he works odd jobs and is applying to get into a University.  He says he wants to move back to Juba, Sudan after things become official in July. But will the opportunities of a big city like Kampala keep him away?

Kuol was conscripted by the SPLA at the age of 12, taken away from his family to train for war. When his training camp was attacked he fled to Ethiopia with the other boys in his battalion. Kuol would later walk from the Ethiopian border through South Sudan to Kenya to find safety along with 15,000 other refugees.  He’s now a land mine clearing tech and is going to University part time.

KongKong was dropped off at the Kenya/Sudan boarder by his parents when he was 10 years old to be taken in as a refugee by the United Nations.  He grew up in a boys’ refugee camp in Nairobi, finishing his education at Nairobi University with a degree in Electrical Engineering.  He’s decided to leave opportunities in Nairobi to help start a new economy in Juba.

Where the money is going:

About half of the funding will go to logistics: Travel to and transportation within East Africa, guest house accommodations, meals, etc.  The other half will fund crew expenses for filming and post-production. If you like details, you can read the full breakdown below.

  • Crew (Production and Post-production) - 49.1%
  • Flight to Nairobi, Kenya - 19.4%
  • Flight to Juba, Sudan - 4.4%
  • Flight to Entebbe, Uganda - 2.9%
  • Meals - 4.7%
  • Accommodations - 4.2%
  • Transportation in Juba - 2.6%
  • Transportation in Nairobi - 1.0%
  • Visas - 1.8%
  • In-country Communications/Internet - 1.1%
  • Insurance (Travel, Health, & Gear) - 2.7%
  • Final Product Distribution - 7.1%
  • Kickstarter and Amazon Processing Fees - 8.4%

What’s the Long Term Plan?

This Kickstarter project is meant to be a launch pad for telling the longer-term story of an emerging South Sudan. With the footage captured on this trip, we will be bettered positioned to seek grants to fully fund the future filming and post-production.

Your contribution to this film is helping put a more human face on South Sudan. Our desire is to change a common narrative about Africa, which simplifies the countries of this continent into themes of war, sadness, and desperation.  By being a part of telling the story of a self-emerging country, you are helping to spread a reality of truth and beauty that exists in South Sudan.

Thanks for your partnership.

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  • Pledge $5 or more
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    1 backer

    A heartfelt thank you! Your partnership is important to us.

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    21 backers

    A digital, full HD version of the short film available for download upon its completion.

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    20 backers

    Previous plus e-newsletters throughout the project with stories, photos, and footage from South Sudan. Get informed about Africa's newest nation through on-the-ground stories and interviews with the opportunity to ask some of your own questions!

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    12 backers

    Previous plus a BluRay version of the short film with extended interviews and behind the scenes footage. (Free shipping in the U.S.; international contributors will pay additional shipping costs.)

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    4 backers

    Previous plus a digital, full HD version of the final feature length film available for download after its world premiere.

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    18 backers

    In honor of the first day of South Sudan’s secession vote (January 9th), you'll receive the previous rewards plus an 11"x17" or 12"x12" print from our travels in South Sudan. Some of these photographs are already available for selection on the blog (southsudan.jonathanshuler.com). More images will become available as filming continues throughout the next 12 months. You may choose your print at any time. (Free shipping in the U.S.; international contributors will pay additional shipping costs.)

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    7 backers

    Previous plus a "thank you" in the credits of both the short and feature length films.

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    3 backers Limited (17 left of 20)

    Previous plus an invitation to the crew's pre-screening party of the feature length film, in Southern California.

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    4 backers Limited (6 left of 10)

    Previous plus an Associate Producer title in the short and feature length films.

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    1 backer Limited (1 left of 2)

    In honor of the year that South Sudan became a nation, you'll receive the previous plus a ticket to the premiere screening of the short or feature length film (your choice).

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    0 backers Limited (1 left of 1)

    Co-Producer title in both the short and feature length films, plus you'll have your questions about South Sudan answered by James, Kuol, and KongKong (by phone or Skype) while we are shooting in South Sudan, plus an invitation to the pre-screening party in Southern California, plus everything in the $109 pledge reward packet.

Funding period

- (30 days)