Sudanese film wins at Durban festival

Sudanese film Beats of the Antonov was among the big winners at the 36th Durban International Film Festival, taking home both Best Documentary and the freedom of expression award.
The festival took place between July 16 and 26.
The documentary is a celebration of the people of the Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains in Sudan, who fought with the South for independence, but now remain trapped in a civil war in the North.
According to the jury, Beats of the Antonov got the prizes “for its story, characters, relevance and visual interpretation,” and for a “story told with grace, while honouring the integrity of the people who gave them access as well as the subject matter”.
The jury for Arterial Network’s Artwatch Africa Award for freedom of expression, which carries a cash prize of $1,189, added, described it as a “…compelling film shows how the power of music, dancing and culture sustains the displaced people living in the remote war-ravaged areas of Southern Sudan”.
A review writing in the City Press similarly hailed Beats of the Antonov as “the must-see film at the Durban International Film Festival this year”.
Scoring the documentary 910, reviewer Charl Blignaut said the “truly extraordinary film dances a line between cultural expression and an exploration of identity in a pure, textured and impossibly complex Fanonian sense”.
President Omar Bashir
The documentary also re-opened debate over the South African government’s decision to allow Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir to leave the country last month, flouting a court order and international convention.
As Tymon Smith wrote in his festival review in The Times, the “excellent Beats of the Antonov got tongues wagging”, as the headline of a Sunday Tribune op-ed said, “Zuma needs to see his Sudan documentary,” which positions the civil war in Sudan as a racist war driven by an anti-black notion of Arabisation.
The Sudanese leader, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC), was in South Africa last month when a court ordered his arrest, but the government ignored the directive.
Beats of the Antonov has charmed audiences around the world, winning The People’s Choice Documentary Award at The Toronto International Film Festival and four other international awards.
Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka directed and shot the documentary over two years, at immense personal risk. He also produced alongside South African Steven Markovitz, as a coproduction between Sudanese production company Refugee Club and South African company Big World Cinema.
South African Khalid Shamis edited the documentary with Hajooj in Cape Town.