In 2005 Coury Deeb had just returned from his first independent film project in Southern Sudan. The film, The New Sudan, was created to document the history of the longest running civil war in Africa and the struggle that resulted from that war for the Sudanese people. In the course of his travels to Sudan, Deeb met nonprofit partners who helped him tell the story of The New Sudan. His goal was for the film to raise both awareness and money for the partner’s projects—both clean water (Water is Basic) and leadership development (ALARM). Upon returning from Sudan, Deeb felt a strong sense that he had found what he was suppose to be doing and decided to create a film company that would tell worthy stories that benefited the partners he worked with to create these films. He named his newly-formed company Nadus, Sudan spelled backwards.
Deep believes Nadus’ unique mission as well as its relationships with partners on the ground sets his team apart from other film production companies. “Our films not only raise awareness but provide support and impact on the ground for our partners,” he says. “Our partners on the ground are instrumental in helping us tell the stories that need to be told and then they are the beneficiary of the awareness campaign and the support that comes in as a result of the films that we build.”
One example of this process is the soon-to-be-released documentary B-boy for Life, a film about the breakdancing subculture in Guatemala City. The documentary is set in the midst of the most dangerous ghettos in all of Central America. Outsiders who venture into these drug-laden ghettos might never be heard from again, but Deeb and his team developed a relationship with an organization called Hope Renewed) which works to provide opportunities for some of the 70,000 to 100,000 people estimated to be living in the La Limonada Ghetto of Guatemala City. Because of the relationships the Nadus team developed, they were able to spend time in back alleys with gangsters who were shooting up, snorting cocaine and shooting off their guns while the team captured their stories. “Without our partners we wouldn’t be as effective in our storytelling”, says Deeb, “and that’s one of the reasons we have partners.”
Built into the mission of the company is to tangibly give back to the partners on the ground by providing financial support or supplies they may need. In Sudan, they were able to raise over $60,000 for their partners and provide clean water for 20,000 people as well as hundreds of mosquito nets and medical supplies. In Guatemala City they have been able to provide scholarships for two of the B-boys and one former gang member.
Deeb has learned a lot about telling stories for social good in his company’s short lifespan. “You have to pick stories that are worthy to be told and are marketable,” he says. “Sometimes the story presents itself to us first. Sometimes we find a really reputable partner that we know has access to really relevant stories.”