The global community is set to witness a cinematic renaissance as a collection of meticulously restored short and medium-length films from the Sudanese Film Group take centre stage at GFF 2023. These films, directed by auteurs Suliman Elnour, Eltayeb Mahdi, and Ibrahim Shaddad, have been painstakingly restored by the Arsenal - Institut für Film und Videokunst, Berlin. Their effort and dedication to preserving these cinematic treasures deserve not only acknowledgement but also applause.
Talking about the long and constructive association that GFF has had with Films and Filmmakers from Sudan, Intishal Al Timimi, Festival Director GFF said, “When Marianne came to me with this proposal, I welcomed it with open arms. The El Gouna Film Festival has long fostered a vibrant connection with Sudanese cinema, marking a journey that began in 2018 with Marwa Zein’s Khartoum Offside, as a project in development. In 2019, GFF celebrated the poignant storytelling of Sudan with Amjad Abu Alala’s You Will Die at Twenty, which won the El Gouna Gold Star in the Feature Narrative Competition. The same year witnessed the recognition of Talking About Trees directed by Suhaib Gasmelbari, earning the El Gouna Gold Star for Best Film in the Feature Documentary Competition, thus completing a Sudanese cinematic sweep. I should mention that Gasmelbari also won the Variety MENA Talent of year, a prestigious award that is given annually by Variety at GFF. Our pride extends to our association with Mohamed Kordofani’s Goodbye Julia, recipient of the 2020 CineGouna Platform Award and several other prestigious honors as a participant of CineGouna SpringBoard 2020. This October, GFF will proudly present the MENA premiere of Goodbye Julia in addition to this remarkable program."
Marianne Khoury, Artistic Director, GFF added “Coincidentally, as we were planning this program, we learnt that the filmmakers were present in Cairo, seeking refuge from the recent surge of violence and turmoil in Khartoum. This convergence of circumstances further underscored the urgency and importance of providing a platform for their voices to be heard."
The Sudanese Film Group emerged in April 1989 with a resolute mission – “to champion the illuminating power of cinema against the shadows of darkness.” This group of dedicated filmmakers, disillusioned by the constraints of Sudanese state-sponsored filmmaking, the group aspired to forge a new path for creative expression, cinematic exploration, and education. However, a political upheaval just months later dismantled their dreams, consigning their cinematic aspirations to a decade-long hiatus. Now, thanks to the diligent work of the Arsenal Institute for Film and Video Art, these films are set to resurface, bringing to light the ingenious narratives and metaphorical richness that was nearly lost to history.
The upcoming 6th edition of the El Gouna Film Festival, scheduled to take place from October 13 to 20, 2023, will feature these restored masterpieces in its Special Presentations lineup.
The program will showcase the following titles:
AFRIKA, DŽUNGLI, BARABAN I REVOLJUCIJA (AFRICA, THE JUNGLE, DRUMS AND REVOLUTION
Suliman Elnour | Soviet Union | 1979 | 12 Min.
An exploration of Africa's representation in Soviet society.
AL DHAREEH | THE TOMB
Eltayeb Mahdi | Egypt | 1977 | 16 Min.
A tale of a man with healing powers.
AL HABIL | THE ROPE
Ibrahim Shaddad | Sudan | 1985 | 31 Min.
Two blind men and a donkey navigate the desert.
AL MAHATTA | THE STATION
Eltayeb Mahdi | Sudan | 1989 | 15 Min.
A depiction of encounters at a crossroads in Sudan.
ARBA'A MARAT LIL ATFAL | FOUR TIMES FOR CHILDREN
Eltayeb Mahdi | Sudan | 1979 | 20 Min.
An insightful look into the lives of children with disabilities.
JAGDPARTIE | HUNTING PARTY
Ibrahim Shaddad | German Democratic Republic | 1964 | 40 Min.
A powerful commentary on racism.
JAMAL | A CAMEL
Ibrahim Shaddad | Sudan | 1981 | 13 Min.
A moving portrait of a camel's life and its parallel with human struggle.
WA LAKIN ALARDH TADUR | IT STILL ROTATES
Suliman Elnour | Soviet Union | 1978 | 18 Min.
A snapshot of life in a Yemeni school.
These restored films exemplify the indomitable spirit of the Sudanese Film Group and their enduring commitment to the art of cinema. As these films grace the Special Presentations of the 6th El Gouna Film Festival, audiences will be transported to a bygone era of cinematic innovation and storytelling brilliance.
About El Gouna Film Festival
One of the leading festivals in the MENA region, GFF aims to showcase a wide variety of films for a passionate and knowledgeable audience, while fostering better communication between cultures through the art of filmmaking. Its goal is to connect filmmakers from the region with their international counterparts in the spirit of cooperation and cultural exchange. El Gouna Film Festival has gained a reputation for showcasing a diverse lineup of films from around the world, including a strong emphasis on Arab cinema. The festival aims to promote and support the industry's growth in the region and provide a platform for filmmakers to showcase their work. The festival is also committed to the discovery of new voices and strives to be a catalyst for the development of cinema in the Arab world, especially through CineGouna Platform, an industry-oriented event created to empower Egyptian and Arab filmmakers and help them find artistic and financial support. CineGouna Platform presents the CineGouna SpringBoard and the CineGouna Bridge programs that provide opportunities for sharing and learning.