How Egypt’s El Gouna Film Festival Is Reviving Sudanese Cinema

In collaboration with the Sudanese Film Group

The sixth edition of the El Gouna Film Festival (GFF) is set to showcase a wide range of cinematic experiences from the region alongside international films, in addition to lesser-known films from Sudan.

Bringing Sudanese cinematic excellence to the international stage, GFF and the Sudanese Film Group (SFG) have teamed up to shed light on the country’s local film scene. GFF’s “Special Screenings Programme” will pay tribute to the nation’s storytellers by showcasing eight recently restored short films by Sudanese directors.

The SFG was initially founded by Eltayeb Mahdi, Ibrahim Shaddad, and Suliman Elnour in April of 1989 during a time when creativity of ferment had been underway in Sudanese filmmaking since the late 70’s, however, during turbulent times. These four men came together and began producing innovative and subversive short films under state sponsorship. As staff at the Ministry of Culture’s cinema department, the SFG was formed in efforts to reach artist independence devoid of any government structures. Unfortunately, their freedom was short-lived and ended as a result of Omar al-Bashir’s military coup in June and subsequent theocratic rulership. The foundation was digitally restored in 2018 by the Arsenal Institute for Film and and Video Art in Berlin.

The eight short-films will follow themes ranging from social commentary on racism to the exploration of a man’s relationship with nature. These restored films embody the power cinema holds in terms of questioning, reflecting, provoking, and enlightening. 

In light of the three filmmakers and their work that contributed to the tapestry of Sudan’s resilient cinematic history, below are the selected eight films. 

AFRICA: FOREST, DRUM, REVOLUTION (1979)

Directed by Suleiman al-Nour

An exploration of Africa’s representation in Soviet society.

THE SHRINE (1977)

Directed by Tayeb Mahdi

A tale of a man with healing powers.

THE ROPE (1985)

Directed by Ibrahim Shaddad

Two blind men and a donkey navigate the desert.

THE STATION (1989)

Directed by Tayeb Mahdi

A depiction of encounters at a crossroads in Sudan.

FOUR TIMES FOR CHILDREN (1979)

Directed by Tayeb Mahdi

An insightful look into the lives of children with disabilities.

HUNTING PARTY (1964)

Directed by Ibrahim Shaddad

A powerful commentary on racism.

CAMEL (1981)

Directed by Ibrahim Shaddad

A moving portrait of a camel’s life and its parallel with human struggle.

BUT THE EARTH REVOLVES (1978)

Directed by Suleiman al-Nour

A snapshot of life in a Yemeni school.

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