With politics brimming to boiling point in the region’s southern melting pot, its recent accolades in film and visual art seem to have been steamed from our view. From public art workshops to their annual film festival, recent cultural events have shown that the art scene is political – and that more than any other mode of representation, art has the capability to express a predilection for both freedom and democracy.
This is historically best represented through experimental film, from Sudanese classics such as the dreamy Ibrahim Shaddad’s Isan (1994) and the more recent output of the Sudan Film Factory. As shown by the legendary work of Farocki, experimental film is best facilitated in times of war or urban unrest, given its mobility and low-expense, creating some of the most beautiful and harrowing works in cinematic history.
As part of a new initiative taken up by Shako Mako, a digital and physical cultural space in Malmö Sweden which facilitates experimental contemporary works by MENA creatives in the diaspora, in the wake of the Sudanese revolution, the collective reached out to myself (the founder of female-focused MENA filmmaking community and digital archive Habibi Collective) proposing a fundraising event.
Curating in the diaspora is often something that’s taken for granted, with more mobility of travel and language. However, after months communicating with various artists, film organisations and critics in Sudan, it was insightful to learn that artistic struggle was retained beyond internet blackouts and visa issues. Art production affected by war is almost more pertinent and productive in producing the artistic product itself, as opposed to wider cultural or artistic influence.
The festival will span two days and will feature some of the best experimental films from the region. The films are all short, and by Sudanese directors. Bahar (2015) is by Sudanese artist and political cartoonist, alongside Khalid Al-Baih, the first recipient of the Freedom artist’s residency awarded by Pen America and ArtX.
The Art of Sin (2019) is a documentary by Ibrahim Mursal, following the outing of Sudan’s first openly gay artist, and his search for acceptance and reconciliation from his family back home. We will also be showing winner of the SIFF, Serotonin (2017) by Shehab Satti, and Issraa el-Kogali’s music documentary In Search of Hip-Hop (2013), which tracks the emerging hip-hop scene in Sudan.
Following the screening will be a panel discussion with the filmmakers, art activists and critics from Sudan. The conversation will revolve around revolution in visual art, and will be discussed between acclaimed curator and Habibi Funk archivist Larissa Nour, Azaa Abubakr, Rinad Norein, and Rahel Weldeab Sebhatu from the Afro-Swedes’ Forum for Justice.
More than ever, art can spark a revolution, and hopefully this is just one of many initiatives using experimental film to ignite conversation about the region.
Hypnos Cinema from 17 – 18 August, all donations go to Sudan Doctors Union.
For more information, click here.