Sudanese Moviegoers Treat Themselves to a Drive-In

by Cathy FOFANA
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soudan drive-in

Sudanese Moviegoers appreciate what the festival organizers presenting the country’s film scene have offered them, their first open-air cinema.

The festival has had to redesign its outdoor venue this year in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A festival for Sudanese film buffs

About a hundred vehicles gathered in a Khartoum parking lot in front of giant screens showing Sudanese and European films on Friday, the start of a week-long festival organized by the British Council.

“We are watching films from our cars, and this is something that has never happened before in Sudan,” said Asmaa, a festival participant. Moviegoers are either sitting inside, next to and on top of their cars to watch the nightly screenings.

Once heavily regulated by the Islamist regime of former President Omar al-Bashir, which was overthrown in 2019, public spaces in Sudan have slowly been liberalized, aided by a revitalized arts scene.

Sudan’s small-scale film industry has won awards at major festivals, and Sudan presented its first film, “You Will Die at Twenty”, at the Oscars in 2020.

This week’s festival has expanded to include Sudanese films in 2018, said Robin Davies, national director of the British Council, but precautions taken against COVID-19 have resulted in a change of format.

“I’m very pleased that the festival has Sudanese films, and we encourage all creative people and young people to produce films,” said Rabab al-Haj, another viewer. “We need programs like this in Sudan.

“Talking about trees” A treat for Sudanese film lovers

This scenario, although very real, is very similar to the one in Suhaib Gasmelbari‘s film.

“Talking About Trees is a beautiful portrait of friendship and hope.

Talking About Trees

Four older Sudanese filmmakers with a passion for cinema, Ibrahim, Suleiman, Manar and Altayeb, facetious and idealistic, fight to bring cinema back to Sudan, not without resistance. In a van, they criss-cross the roads of Sudan to screen films while avoiding the censorship of the government.

These four lifelong friends start dreaming of organizing a big public screening in the capital Khartoum and renovating an abandoned movie theater. If you haven’t seen it yet, there is still time.


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