News / Africa

Filmmaker Revives Sudan’s Movie Industry

Audiences gathered in Khartoum for several days of the Sudan International Film Festival in January, 2014, where Egyptian singer Dina Wdid performed. (Courtesy Salahaldeen Nadir)
Audiences gathered in Khartoum for several days of the Sudan International Film Festival in January, 2014, where Egyptian singer Dina Wdid performed. (Courtesy Salahaldeen Nadir)
Independent filmmakers are trying to revive the film industry in Sudan. Years ago, Khartoum audiences filled 14 movie theaters showing pack houses Egyptian comedies, romances, serious dramas and western action-packed adventures. Strict Islamic regulation and economic hardship changed all of that 25 years ago. Today, only one cinema survives.

One of the revivalists in Sudan’s film industry is Talal Afifi, a film curator, creative producer and human rights activist in Egypt and Sudan. Nowadays, he manages the production of documentaries and short films and leads workshops in filmmaking in Sudan.

“When we started working on documentaries, we experienced a problem,” says Afifi. “Most of Sudan’s history is not documented. This is one of the dilemmas that we suffer in Sudan. Documentaries are a good tool to enrich the experience of making feature movies.”
Listen to Talal Afifi discuss Sudan's film rebirth
Listen to Talal Afifi discuss Sudan's film rebirthi
|| 0:00:00

Afifi and some of his film colleagues joined forces to create a Sudan International Film Festival – a difficult task in a country whose industry nearly died two decades ago. They succeeded, however, in putting on a week-long film festival of works from Ethiopia, Kenya, Egypt and Sudan. One of his Sudan Film Factory’s works was shown.

Film empowers producer and audience

As a filmmaker, Afifi has learned the values of empowerment. His childhood curiosity about cinematography was fully realized when the Goethe institute offered to support the creation of his Sudan Film Factory four years ago.

The director turned the factory into a haven where young Sudanese can build their film skills and to expose the rest of Sudan to the power of film to change Sudan.

“Our work was based on fund-raising,” he says. “We submit feasibility studies to potential donors. We have most of the necessary equipment and technical staff from the Sudan Film Factory.

Critics from unexpected cultural quarters

The large audience attending the festival included major social and political figures of Sudan, Afifi says. There was no criticism from the government and no effort to censor the content of the films. But Afifi was surprised to draw sharp criticism from within the cultural community.

“We did not experience any censorship from the government or any other entity. The only negative pressure we endured did not come from the government or security; it came from the cultural society in Sudan whom we expected to support us.
The criticism was voiced by others in the burgeoning film industry; none other than members of the Sudanese Filmmakers Union. Afifi was surprised and disappointed by their criticism, but not discouraged.

Film to change Sudan
Afifi encourages young African artists to visit Sudan and produce joint projects. He’s now planning the next Sudan Film Factory festival, which will be bigger.

“Sudan is a country with diverse cultures that are worthy of attention,” he said and he called on filmmakers from the rest of Africa to come and join in the renaissance. “I would like to thank the youth of Sudan who gave us inspiration and energy and proved that if there is a will, there is a way.”

Afifi is looking for new ways to help independent filmmakers to produce documentaries because he believes film can make positive changes in Sudan.

“Documentary films and visual arts in general are very effective in drawing people’s attention. A piece of visual art captures attention and leaves an impact that will last according to how effective the piece is.

“Change is not done at once but rather it results from cumulative work targeted to awareness-raising and stimulating the will of the people and, of course, action and the ability to plan well.

“All of these elements have to work together for change to realize.

Afifi focuses on women’s rights

Human rights for men, women and children are a primary concern of the filmmaker. Women's right paly a prominet role in his films.  

“The women’s status as citizens of Sudan is not appropriate,” he says. “They face lots of injustices in acquiring their rights, such as food and clothes, housing and education. Their standard of living needs lots of enhancements.”

Afifi has produced many documentary films about women’s issues in Sudan. He says the women of his country are experiencing many socio-economic, political, and cultural challenges. 

One of Afifi’s documentaries targets the role of women on politics, and the progress being made by the Salmmah Women’s Resource Center as they developed a role for women in the last election.

You May Like

US, China Have Dueling Definitions of Cybersecurity

Analysts say attribution or or proving that a particular individual or government is responsible for a hack, is a daunting task More

Snowden: I'd Go to Prison to Return to US

Former NSA contractor says he has not received a formal plea-deal offer from US officials, who consider him to be a traitor More

Goodbye Pocahontas: Photos Reveal Today's Real Native Americans

Weary of stereotypes, photographer Matika Wilbur is determined to reshape the public's perception of her people More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs