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June 25, 2013

With German Help, S. Sudanese Try Hand at Film

by Mugume Davis Rwakaringi

When the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development put out a call in December for aspiring young filmmakers to make movies about life in South Sudan, Mary Kadi Manoah stepped up with an idea based on her own experience about returning home after the end of the Sudanese civil war.

"When I came back, I felt this is my country but at the same I felt out of it because everyone treated me different, everyone called me names," said Manoah, 27, who works as a reporter at a local South Sudan television station. 

"So when they asked me to come up with an idea for a short film, this is what came to my head first," she said.

Like four other amateur filmmakers who answered the call to make a movie, Manoah was given $650 and two months to make her film.

She produced  "Clash of Cultures,"  which tells the story of a young woman who gets into an argument with friends over her style of dress -- they think it's too provocative for South Sudan.

Simon Bingo made another of the films. He said he wanted his film to address issues in South Sudanese culture that are often swept under the carpet, such as child marriage.

His film, called "Dowry of Life", is about a young woman who continues to have an affair with the man she really loves, even after she is forced by her parents to marry a wealthy man. The young woman's actions eventually have disastrous consequences.

“Just assume you are forcing yourself to get married to a lady that you don’t love. How would you feel?" Bingo said.

"We are trying to discuss with our own people, our own South Sudanese -- please let us value women, let us try to give support to our own young sisters so that they can get a bright future ahead.”

"Dowry of Life" was Bingo's first foray into film. Working on the film has inspired him to pursue a career in filmmaking, and to move forward with his dream, he is trying to find the money to buy a camera and editing equipment.

Bingo and the four other young filmmakers are optimistic about their futures. 

Their films were screened at the Black International Cinema Berlin festival in the German capital last month, and in Juba this month at an event called "The Making of Juba Youth."

Deputy Minister of Education Rebecca Joshua Okwaci has called them pathfinders and expressed the hope that more young people in South Sudan will be given the opportunity to develop their artistic talents.