Conclusion: Sudanese Cinema Today
Since the start of the Second Sudanese Civil War in 1983, the Sudanese film industry has become little more than a tool in the government’s propaganda campaign. In 1993, the Ministry of Culture and Information issued an order to disband the Sudan Cinema Corporation, Sudan’s only distributor of local & foreign films. The Sudan Film Unit suffered a similar fate.
Sudanese cinema is on the verge of death. Where there were once 17 movies houses in Khartoum, there are now only 5 or 6, showing mostly Indian, Egyptian, and a few Western films. In the past 15 years, only 3 feature films have been produced in Sudan. Due to government restrictions and fears of arrest, Sudanese filmmakers have increasingly gone west to show their work.
There are still some bright spots, however, like Taghreed Elsanhouri’s Orphans of Mygoma, which tells the story of an orphanage in the city of Omdurman. A surprise addition to Sudanese cinema comes from American Bentley Brown, born in Chad and raised in Sudan, who produced an independent film, Faisal Goes West’, about a Sudanese family’s adjustment to life in Dallas, Texas.
For now though it seems the legacy of Sudanese cinema will live on in the work of Gadalla Gubara, a person who embodied hope, motivation, and love of culture, a reminder of what Sudan once was and what it can be again. Through his films and the memories of those Sudanese familiar with his work, this founding father of Sudanese cinema and pioneer of African film remains immortal.
*Omar Zaki is a Sudanese-British student pursuing a BA in History at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London. He serves as Secretary for the SOAS Students’ Union and has a strong interest in all things Sudanese and African. He tweets at mightyoz92.
Quotes taken from documentary, ‘Cinema In Sudan: Conversations with Gadalla’ (2008) by Frederique Cifuentes.
Quote from Omar ElFadli taken from Documentary ‘Sudan: History of a broken Land’ (2011) by Al Jazeera International (17:15).
To see some of Gubara’s & Sarah Gubara’s work watch this episode of ‘The Fabulous Picture Show – Home Song Stories’ by Al Jazeera International (8:00).