Coming soon to your screens: On archives, legacies and new waves of sudanese cinema

In the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, Sudan was at the cutting edge of film-making in Africa. Gadalla Gubara, a lesser known pioneer of African cinema, realised over 50 documentary and feature film productions and made some of the continent’s best-known films. He incepted Khartoum’s first film studio, Studio Gad and is a founding father of the Pan-African Federation of Filmmakers FEPACI and the FESPACO festival in Burkina Faso. Today Sudan is once again entering a new arena of film-making. The first ever film festival in the country, the Sudan Independent Film Festival (SIFF) has been launched in Khartoum in 2014, showcasing quality Sudanese and international films each year. Focused on independent cinema as a form of artistic expression for social debate and change, it has set out to diversify West­ern cinema paradigms by establishing itself as a platform celebrating African culture and aes­thetics.

Coming Soon to your Screens: On Archives, Legacies and New Waves of Sudanese Cinema digs into the archives and traces the glorious legacy to present-day new waves of contemporary Sudanese cinema.

The first screening of the digitalised version of Gadalla’s first feature film Tajouje (1977) in Berlin will mark the opening of the programme on November 22nd at Arsenal Cinema. The Arsenal–Institute of Film and Video Art together with Katharina von Schroeder and Nadja Korinth have, over the past years, realised an extensive project dedicated to the preservation and digitalisation of the film holdings of Gadalla Gubara, produced at Khartoum’s famous Studio Gad. The film will be presented by his daughter Sara Gadalla who lives and works as a filmmaker in Khartoum. Gadalla’s final master piece Les Misérables will be screened on the second night, November 23rd at SAVVY Contemporary in attendance of Sara Gadalla. On the final evening, November 24th we will exit the archive and screen a curated night of five short films followed by a conversation on present-day Sudanese film production, cinematic state of the art and future directions with the curator of the programme Talal Affifi.

Talal Afifi b. 1976, is a Sudanese film curator, creative producer, and the founder and director of Sudan Film Factory, a production house and film culture platform that works since 2010 in empowering and building youth capacities in the field of documentation, filmmaking and freedom of expression. He is the founder and president of Sudan Independent Film Festival since 2014 and art manager of Karmakol International Festival. He is also a member of the executive committee of the Sudanese Writers’ Union. Previously working in cultural management in Egypt and Sudan, he also managed the production of a variety of documentaries and short films between 2010–2017, in addition to supervising filmmaking workshops and training in Sudan. Afifi is interested in further developing the independent filmmaking industry and supporting new modes of documentary production and presentation.

Gadalla Gubara is one of the less well-known pioneers of African cinema. He ran the first film studio in Sudan and was co-founder of both the Pan-African Federation of Filmmakers FEPACI and the FESPACO festival (Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso). His oeuvre spans feature films, reports, educational documentaries, advertising films and home movies. He documented Sudan’s political and social developments for over 50 years, from independence in 1956 via the phase of socialist government and its policy of modernization all the way through to the proclamation of the Islamic Republic in 1983, equally capturing the obvious deterioration in conditions for filmmaking that went hand in hand with this development.

Sara Gadalla Gubara lives and works in Khartoum. She has directed feature films, documentaries and animated films. She is a long distance swimmer, and has participated in local and international competitions. In addition, she advises NGOs on questions of gender and equal opportunities. Sara Gubara is a graduate of the Academy of Arts in Cairo. Her films have been presented at festivals in South Africa, Zanzibar, and Uganda.