Oscars: Sudan Submits ‘Goodbye Julia’ For Best International Feature Film

Oscars: Sudan Submits ‘Goodbye Julia’ For Best International Feature Film

Sudan has submitted Mohamed Kordofani’s Khartoum-set drama Goodbye Julia for Best International Feature Film at the 96thAcademy Awards.

The film made history in Cannes this year as the first Sudanese film to play in the festival after it was selected for Un Certain Regard.

Its premiere took place just weeks after fighting broke out in Khartoum due to a clash between rival generals, which has led to the deaths of 5,000 people and uprooted seven million people.

Since Cannes, the film has also played at Karlovy Vary in its Horizons section and will make its MENA premiere at Egypt’s El Gouna Film Festival in October ahead of a theatrical release in Egypt on October 25. It has also been selected for the BFI London Film Festival.

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The selection was made by the Sudanese National Committee which is operating in exile.

Alaa Karkouti at MAD Solutions, which is handling world sales, said the committee had confirmed with AMPAS that the film would be eligible for consideration. He added that its qualifying theatrical run in Egypt had been permitted thanks to the fact the country is co-production territory.

Kordofani belongs to a wave of filmmakers that emerged in the wake of Sudan’s 2019 revolution, ending the 30-year rule of dictator Omar al-Bashir.

Efforts to build a civil democracy have since stalled following a military coup in October 2021 by General Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman al-Burhani, who is now involved in a power struggle with General Mohamed Hamdan Daglo.

Goodbye Julia is set in a different moment of turmoil for the country in the lead up to the 2011 South Sudan Independence referendum, in which the suppressed Black mainly Christian population of the south voted to break away from the ruling Arab Muslim population of the north.

The film follows roots of the schism through the tale of a singer from the north (Eiman Yousif) who tries to make amends for her role in the killing of a man from the south without revealing her connection to the crime by hiring his widow as a maid, played Dubai-based, South Sudan-born top model Siran Riak.

U.S-Sudanese actor and refugee advocate Ger Duany (The Good LieThe Nile Hilton Incident) also features in the cast in a supporting role.

Siran Riak, Ger Duany and Eman Yousif in Cannes

The film is also currently competing at the Septimius Awards, where it is in the running for Best African Actress, Best African Film, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography, and Best Soundtrack.

The film is produced by Amjad Abu Alala at Station Films – who directed Sudan’s first-ever submission to the Academy Awards You Will Die At Twenty – in collaboration with producer Mohamed Al-Omda, who co-produced Yemen’s Berlin International Film Festival selection The Burdened.

Co-producers on the film include Baho Bakhsh and Safei Eldin Mahmoud (Red Star Films), Michael Henrichs (Die Gesellschaft), Khaled Awad and Mohamed Kordofani (Klozium Studios), Marc Irmer (Dolce Vita), Faisal Baltyuor (Cinewaves Films), Ali El-Arabi (Ambient Light), Adham El-Sherif (CULT), and Issraa Elkogali Häggström (RiverFlower).

Previously,  Goodbye Julia won MAD Solutions’ Grant Award at the CineGouna SpringBoard that was held at the fourth El Gouna Film Festival, Best Film Project in the Development Phase ($15,000), a certificate from the El Gouna Cinema Platform, a Mentorship Prize from the IEFTA, and the New Century Prize ($10,000).

It also won the Malmö Arab Film Festival’s award for Best Project In Development and received financial support from Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea Fund, the Paris Region, ARRI, and Film und Medienstiftung NRW.

Kordofani preNYERKUK won the Black Elephant Award for Best Sudanese Film, NAAS Award for Best Arab Film at the Carthage Film Festival, Jury Award at the Oran International Arab Film Festival, and Arnone-Belavite Pellegrini Award at the FCAAA in Milan.

His second short KEJERS PRISON was screened during the Sudanese revolution at the sit-in square in front of thousands of protesters, and his documentary A TOUR IN LOVE REPUBLIC was the first pro-revolution film to be broadcast on Sudan’s national TV.

His last film was THIS IS SUDAN, which was commissioned by Sudan’s former prime minister Abdallah Hamdok to promote Sudan’s potential for investment.