The 69th Berlinale has presented nine Sudanese movies produced between 1964 and 2019:
„Khartoum Offside“, 2019, by Marwa Zein El Abdin Seed Ahmed Fadl Arbab, is a documentary about putting together a Sudanese football team for the FIFA Women’s World Cup. The movie is a cinematic proof of the power of friendship. Film director Marwa Zein deconstructs stereotypical perceptions of her country.
„Khartoum Offside“ is her 1st long documentary film produced by her own production company based in Khartoum. Since 2014, Marwa Zein (born 1985 in Mecca) is also working as a film programmer for the Sudan Independent Film Festival.
„Talking about Trees“, 2019, by Suhaib Gasmelbari Mustafa, is a documentary about the history of the Sudanese cinema, the love of cinematography and the passion for restoring old Sudanese films and presenting them to the audience.
Suhaib Gasmelbari Mustafa (born 1979 in Omdurman) studied cinema in France where he pursued an education in cinema history, criticism and directing. He also gained expertise in areas of graphic design, special effects, and broadcasting. Nevertheless, his main focus remains the true Cinema. He has completed short narrative films before finishing his documentary „Talking about Trees“.
„Of Dust and Rubies“, 2000, by Hussein Shariffe, is a film on suspension which undertakes a cinematic interpretation of a selection of contemporary Sudanese poetry.
For many years, Hussein Shariffe (born 1934 in Omdurman), together with his intimate cast and crew, was filming across Egypt. After his death, he left five hours of footage of this film.
Talal Afifi, a film producer and director of the Sudan Film Factory in Khartoum, travelled to Berlin to present the screening of footage of the movie „Of Dust and Rubies“.
„The Station“, 1989, by Altayeb Mahdi, shows how people cross the desert on foot or cover long distances by car and truck. It presents encounters at one of the large crossroads between the capital Khartoum in the centre of the country and Bur Sudan on the Red Sea.
„The Tomb“, 1977, by Altayeb Mahdi, tells the story of a man who claims to be able to heal people.
Altayeb Mahdi (born 1951 in Omdurman) is a multi-award-winning filmmaker. He graduated with a degree from the Higher Institute of Cinema in Cairo in 1976. He has produced film music for several internationally award-winning films and was the head of the Sudanese Film Group for a number of years. The author of numerous articles on cinema for major Sudanese newspapers. He is currently working on the feature film „The Lantern and Darkness“.
„Camel“, 1985, by Ibrahim Shaddad, is a report from the life of a camel, most of which plays out in a dreary, small room – a sesame mill.
„The Rope“, 1981, by Ibrahim Shaddad, documents two blind men making their way through the desert accompanied by a donkey. Connected by a rope, sometimes the two men decide the way, and sometimes the donkey leads them through the desert.
„Hunting Party“, 1964, by Ibrahim Shaddad, is a treatise on racism. The movie was shot in a forest in Brandenburg, East Germany. It uses the Western film genre to portray the hunt for a Black man. It is the first Sudanese-German Western movie.
Ibrahim Shaddad (born 1945 in Halfa) studied at the German Film University in Babelsberg. He has written and directed many films and some plays. He is a founding member of the Sudanese Film Group and a member of the editorial board of the magazine Cinema.
„It Still Rotates“, 1978, by Suliman Mohamed Ibrahim Elnour, depicts the everyday life in a school in South Yemen. It is a master piece about the longings of people and a highlight of the Film Festival.
Suliman Mohamed Ibrahim Elnour (born 1947 in Omdurman) studied Folklore, African and Asian Studies at the University of Khartoum and film at the Gerasimov Institute of Cinematography (VGIK) in Moscow. He is a founding member of the Sudanese Film Group and a member of the editorial board of the magazine Cinema.
The reception at the audience in Berlin of all movies mentioned above was widely positive. Tickets were sold out, long applauses after the movies took place and discussions with the film makers at the movie theatre after each screening were joined by many people.
It was a unique occasion for the audience in Germany to get in touch with contemporary and retrospective cinematography of Sudan.
The Sudanese movies at the 2019 edition of the International Berlin Film Festival prove that Sudan is on of the pioneers of movie productions in Africa and has an enormous potential of creativity.
Seven of the nine movies were restorations by Arsenal, the Berlin based Institute for Film and Video Art which digitally restored the works by the the Sudanese Film Group in 2018.
During the late seventies and early eighties, a group of filmmakers who were then the staff of the Cinema Section at the Department of Culture issued a periodical named CINEMA.
This same group then founded the Sudanese Film Group in April 1989 to give them more independence from the state. The purpose of the group was to be fully engaged in all aspects of film production, screening, and teaching, as well as maintaining the passion of the Sudanese for the cinema.
During a panel discussion about the Sudanese Film Group at the Berlin Film Festival, Ibrahim Shaddad said: „Right now my priority is not to shot new movies. My priority is to re-opening cinema houses in Sudan. I am fighting that there are more cinema houses instead of more movie productions. Because you need the cinema houses to present the movies to the people. It does not make sense to make new movies if you cannot show them to the audience.“
After the world premier of her movie „Khartoum Offside“ at the Berlinale, Marwa Zein raised the questions: „How can I show my film in Sudan?“
But even in Germany „Khartoum Offside“ did not find a film distributor yet.