SUDANESE moviegoers are enjoying what organisers are saying is their first drive-in cinema after a festival showcasing the country’s resurgent, post-uprising film scene moved outdoors this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
About 100 vehicles gathered in a Khartoum parking lot across from giant screens showing Sudanese and European films on Friday, the start of a week-long festival organized by the British Council.
“We’re watching films from our cars, and that’s something that has never happened before in Sudan,” said Asmaa, among festival attendees sitting inside, next to, and on top of their cars for the nighttime screenings.
Once heavily regulated by the regime of former President Omar al-Bashir, who was toppled in 2019, public spaces in Sudan are being slowly reclaimed, helped by a re-ignited art scene.
Films from Sudan’s small cinema industry have won awards at major festivals, and Sudan submitted its first film, ‘You Will Die at Twenty’, to the Academy Awards in 2020.
This week’s festival expanded to include Sudanese films in 2018, said British Council country director Bruce Davis, but precautions against COVID-19 prompted a change of format.
“I’m so happy that the festival has Sudanese films, and we encourage all the creatives and young people to produce movies,” said Rabab al-Haj, another moviegoer. “We need programmes like this in Sudan.”