Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 1 December 2020

Sudan makes history with first film submission into Oscars race

Amjad Abu Alala's 'You Will Die at 20' is the first Sudanese film to represent the country in the Oscars race

'You Will Die at 20' by Amjad Abu Alala is the first Sudanese film to be submitted by Sudan for the Academy Awards for Best International Feature Film. 
'You Will Die at 20' by Amjad Abu Alala is the first Sudanese film to be submitted by Sudan for the Academy Awards for Best International Feature Film. 

For the first time in its history, Sudan has selected a film as its official nomination in the category for Best International Feature Film at the 2021 Academy Awards.

Sudanese filmmaker Amjad Abu Alala's award-winning film You Will Die at 20 tells the story of 19-year-old Muzamil, who is predicted by the village holy man to die after his 20th birthday. The drama has already won a number of awards since it premiered in 2019, including the Grand Prix du Jury at the Amiens International Film Festival, the Luigi De Laurentiis Award at the Venice Film Festival and the Golden Star at El Gouna Film Festival last year.

Right, director Amjad Abu Alala and actor Hassan Ali walk on the red carpet for their film 'You Will Die at Twenty' at the El Gouna Film Festival last year. El Gouna Film Festival/AFP
Director Amjad Abu Alala, right, and actor Hassan Ali walk on the red carpet for their film 'You Will Die at 20' at the El Gouna Film Festival last year. El Gouna Film Festival / AFP

Born in Al Ain, Abu Alala started making short films in the early-2000s as a student at the United Arab Emirates University.

In an interview with The National earlier this year, he said: "Cinema should always be about the fire inside of us ... If we didn’t try to find that fire, it would just be a cold piece of work. I wanted to get my fire outside."

On the film's official Instagram account, the following was posted: "We're so proud to announce that Sudan has entered the Academy Awards race for the first time with the selection of Amjad Abu Alala’s You Will Die at 20 as the country’s first Best International Feature Film submission for the 2021 Academy Awards.

"Only the eighth feature film in the history of Sudanese cinema, this marks a significant moment in the country’s cultural landscape and opens doors for a new wave of local filmmakers yearning to have their stories, voices and perspectives embraced by audiences back at home and abroad."

Over the past decade, Sudan's cinema industry has witnessed a revival with the work of filmmakers like Abu Alala as well as Hajooj Kuka with his film Beats of the Antonov, Suhaib Gasmelbari's Talking about Trees and Marwa Zein's documentary Khartoum Offside.

Updated: November 17, 2020 02:32 PM

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