Sollywood: the first South Sudan Film Festival

The South Sudan Film Festival is on this weekend!

Nyakouron theatre was packed out last night for the first night’s short films, interspersed with sketches from theatre groups.  The crowd were not the calm, culturally-focused critics I had completely naively expected them to be; if there was popcorn, it would have been thrown.  Howls of laughter were interspersed with heckling in a variety of languages, wolf howls – I kid not – whenever a woman came on screen or on stage, and yells of specific advice to actors and characters on screen.  (“TELEPHONE FI? GET HER NUMBER” was my favourite, directed at my friend Lazarus’ character who was making friends with the lead female character.)

This type of event really shows up the stark differences between expat ‘returnee’ South Sudanese from Australia, the US and Europe with their contemporaries from East Africa and from Sudan.  Aside from the clear stratification of funding/access to decent camera equipment across these groups, the subject matter and tone of the US-made film versus the Juba-made ones was stark and extremely interesting.  The US one was serious: cunning recurring themes of water, ‘drop in the ocean’ metaphor, tribalism, generational divides and nation-building rhetoric, all packed into ten minutes; it was very definitely ‘deep’.  (My only criticism of this film is that it suffers from the problematic scripting of anything talking so clearly about “big issues” – it’s hard to do a short, punchy and serious script about national divisions that doesn’t become a series of set soundbites.)

On the other hand, the locally produced one – with excellent crew and decent equipment – was shaky, with poor sound, difficult outside lighting, and no running story.  Its focus was a series of overlapping incidents in a ‘village’ – the misunderstandings of the hapless city boy, the sexual harassment of young women at the borehole, the domestic violence, the theft of a chicken, the fecklessness of the peasant farmer.  It was funny, particularly the chicken thief moments: shot from a perspective behind the running chicken, low on the ground.  Chicken’s-eye shots are I guess naturally funny.

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “Sollywood: the first South Sudan Film Festival

  1. Rebecca

    Thanks for this post on the film festival, Nicki. I’d been hoping people will give those of us not there a glimpse into the film fare and responses. Having worked on theater produced by southerners in Khartoum, I’ve been paying attention to how social/geographic location and generic choice affects the cinematic/theatrical product. I venture to say that there is a also a difference between videos made by Khartoumers and those made by those who have lived in East Africa, but I the differences would need to be parsed out and analyzed, not applied in a blanket way… -R

    • Thank you! I saw your advert for it on facebook, too. I agree, there are definitely differences between Khartoum/East African returnees (and not just in film style!) but they’re a bit more subtle; it’s the same as music influence here, there’s definitely more Nollywood/Kenyan film industry overtones to the East African stuff, a different style of comedy too. It’s pretty interesting; last night was really more East African vs. US film styles, so I’m hoping tonight should give me even more food for thought. Very good films, all of them!

  2. Sollywood producers or films’ makers are really very creative. they only need little time to kick off the world of South Sudan.

  3. Apsolutely, Sollywood is one of the greatest movies industry in South Sudan
    i apreciate the producer, dirrectors coustumers, actors and actreses for breaking the sillent on the first sollywood south sudan festival in nyakuron caltural center.
    Every one were happy in the theater,
    it was so mouch interesting and wonderful.

  4. Congratulation to our new film festival the sollywood***I like it I will wish to fulfilled my childhood dream of becoming an actor****I would like to join the industry

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