1 February 2019

Sudanese Film Wins Berlin Film Festival Award

A Sudanese film has won the 2019 Berlin International Film Festival's Documentary Award as well as the most sought after award: "The Prize of the Public".

Filmmaker Suhaib Gasmelbari took the Berlinale Glashütte Original Documentary Award for his film "Talking About Trees," which chronicles the efforts of a group of film enthusiasts to revive an old cinema in Sudan.

The documentary had turned heads and drew wide audience ovation after it was put to display.

The film depicts the memoirs of four pioneer cinema filmmakers, bound by a friendship that continued for 45 years, trying to set a cinema lounge in the City of Omdurman despite the political and social odds. Thus the situation, the producers: Ibrahim Shaddad, Suleiman Mohammad Ibrahim, Altayeb Mahdi and Manar Alhilu resorted to shoot short documentary scenes and continue with trying to start the Sudanese Cinema Club.

Filmmaker Suhaib Gasmelbari was born 1979 in Omdurman and studied cinema in France. He is credited for reviving cinema in the Sudan. He had also produced the documentary "The Forgotten Films of the Sudan", that won wide distribution after it was aired on the Aljazeera satellite television channel.

The Forgotten Films of the Sudan tells the story of Benjamin and Awad Aldaw, two employees of the Sudan Film Corporation, and their attempts to revive cinema in Sudan.

On 16 February the Berlin Festival watched a group of Sudanese films, namely "A Hunting Excursion" by film Director Ibrahim Shaddad, "But the Earth Rotates", by Director Suleiman Mohammad Ibrahim and Director Altayeb Mahdi's films: " The Station", "The Tomb" and "Four Mattresses For Children."

The Berlin Festival had also witnessed a distinct participation of Sudanese women, represented in the person of Director Marwa Alzain with her film "Khartoum Offside."

The Berlin Festival has spanned through 7-16 February.

The cinema art was introduced to Sudan in the early 1920s by the British Army with a view to entertaining British subjects working in the Sudan.

In the 1970s and the early 1980s the Sudanese Cinema saw an upsurge of film production. That activity was centered on the production of documentaries and short films. Altayeb Mahdi's film "The Tomb" had won the golden prize of the Cairo short films festival in 1970.

Ibrahim Shaddad's film "The Camel" had won the critics award in the Canne Festival (France) in 1986. Suleiman film "But the Earth Rotates" had won the Moscow Film Festival's golden award in 1979.

Despite these successes, the Sudanese cinema industry had started to decline since the late 1980s.

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