By: Rogia al-Shafee
KHARTOUM (Sudanow) - In its debut, the Sudanese long film “You Will Die At Twenty”, directed by Amjad Abu Alala, was received with standing ovation that continued for seven minutes when it was screened during the recent 76th Venice Cinema Festival.
The film is based on the novel “Sleeping At the Mountain’s Foot” by writer Ziyadda Hammoor.
The film also won the first prize of the Italian group “The Advantage” that awards prizes for outstanding films on the sidelines of the Venice Festival. The Advantage considered the film ‘the most effective African work in the Festival.’
In the film, the boy, Muzzamil (Moatasem Rashid), is raised knowing his fate, taunted by other kids as the “son of death” simply because a religious man had said he would die at twenty. His mother Sakina, overprotective, keeps him out of school as if she can somehow stave off fate, yet she never questions its inevitability. Muzzamil, however, wants to learn, and as a teen (Mustafa Shehata) he’s allowed to go to a new sheikh for instruction in the Quran. At the Quran seminary Muzzamil turns out to be excellent at memorizing and learns the Quran by heart. He’s also working for the village shopkeeper, delivering alcohol to Sulaiman (Mahmoud Elsaraj), a cynical man who returned after years abroad. Sulaiman is the catalyst for Muzamil to question his fate and his surroundings, introducing him to cinema and the notion of a world outside. He taught him about films and thus he started to go to the cinema himself and even thought of joining the cinema industry.
You Will Die at Twenty is the first long Sudanese film to be produced by a professional team in recent years. It is also Director Amjad Abu Alala’s first long film after he had directed or produced several short films.
In the film story Hammoor has given a depiction of the sufi (mystic) world where communities influence the thinking of the individual.
The film was shot in the Gezira district of Central Sudan with joint finance from businesses in Sudan, Egypt, Germany, France and Norway.
The film cast is made of Islam Mubarak, Mustafa Shehata, Mazin Ahmed, Talal Afifi, Mahmoud El-Sarraj and Bunna Khalid.
Film director and producer Shukralla Khalafalla has considered the film “a daring and serious experiment on the part of the young director Amjad Abulela that deserves thinking”.
“The film was received with admiration and has won a prize. The participation in an international festival represents a progressive vision in the world of cinema now that the world is turning towards the culture of popular diplomacy as represented in sports and arts,” Khalafalla told Sudanow in an interview.
Director and cameraman Eisa Mohammad Noor considered the film as representing a powerful move forward and a true addition to the Sudanese cinema. “The film is an incentive for young Sudanese directors to compete in international festivals like this one,” he said
He said the film will be screened in Egypt after having been played in Italy and Canada and will be screened in the Sudan in a big show.
Actors’ trainer Salwa Mohammad Ali said she was happy for her participation with good young actors in this film. “The experiment was so exciting for me although it is not my first experiment in training,” she said.
You Will Die At Twenty is Sudan’s first long film in twenty years, the 7th in the country’s history. It was received with international interest and had received financial grants from such countries as Germany, Lebanon and Norway, according to director Amjad.
The film has already been tipped for the Toronto contest for contemporary cinema during 5-15 September, the Boasan Festival during 3-13 October in addition to several other festivals.
Amjad had previously directed a short film entitled ‘the birds’ feather’ that won wide international and regional acclaim.
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