Sudanese films are something of a joke. The actors are, shall I say…overly enthusiastic, the plot always a little (if not a lot) far-fetched, the camera work and direction laughable. This generates a lack of respect and support for the industry from the general public, not to mention the choke hold the government has on artistic freedom. In any case, it’s not something that’s taken seriously. Sudanese people in non-Sudanese films are not taken seriously. The actor almost always appears in black face. Moronic, loud, clueless and used as comic relief – and yes I am talking about Egyptian films. Then there are the films about Sudan. I say Sudan, I mean Darfur – the only part of the country that matters, according to George Clooney anyway. Thankfully I’ve found hope for Sudanese cinema in Bentley Brown. A Caucasian American who can speak better Arabic than me. Naturally he intrigued me, so I did a little research and found out he was raised in Chad, spends a lot of his time in Sudan and probably has as much love for the country as a native. The best part about Bentley Brown, however, is his project Faisal Goes West. The latter is a narrative fiction film that uses comedy and drama to depict a Sudanese family’s adjustment to life in America. The concept of this film excites me as it is something I can genuinely relate to, particularly living in a non-Muslim country. The struggle to adjust, the identity crisis, the contradicting lifestyles, all issues I’m looking forward to seeing portrayed in a Sudanese film about Sudanese people with Sudanese actors. The film premiered at the Souq Film Festival in Milan, Italy and has so far received an excellent reception in the London Short Film Festival, the Jaipur International Film Festival in India, as well as in parts of America and Europe. The film also recently won an award for Best in Show at the Texas Independent Film Festival and looks set to excel in the independent film industry worldwide. The project was funded by lovers of cinema, and Sudanese people like me wanting to see something decent about Sudan on the big screen for once; Machine Gun Preacher really does not count. Financial backers were promised a DVD of the film in the post and I look forward to receiving my copy any day now – I know it’ll do Sudanese people justice.
The views expressed by the author do not necessarily represent or reflect the editorial policy of Arabstoday.