The cinema of Sudan is almost completely unknown on a world stage. Whilst not overly surprising for an impoverished African country, this hasn’t always been the case. Years of oppressive governments, hard-line religion and a struggling economy has resulted in almost all the cinemas closing down. Film-makers, who at one stage were winning awards on the festival circuit, suddenly found their paths blocked when the regime changed.
Talking About Trees, the new documentary from Suhaib Gasmelbari, follows the Sudanese Film Club as they attempt to reignite a culture of cinemagoing in Khartoum. The film focusses on a small group of former film-makers, including Ibrahim Shadad, Manar Al Hilo, Suleiman Mohamed Ibrahim and Altayeb Mahdi, as they struggle to host a screening in one of the local cinemas.
Talking About Trees is a labour of love. Both for the film-maker, who clearly has great respect and reverence for his subjects, and those directors determined to bring the magic of cinema back for the Sudanese. As with many things in life, politics often gets in the way and their task is by no means a simple one. Thankfully, they’re a determined bunch. Talking About Trees does a great job of documenting their struggle.
Talking About Trees screens again at London Film Festival on 9 October.