Review: ‘Our Beloved Sudan’

Using the story of a mixed-race family to personalize a nation's troubled history, multihyphenate Taghreed Elsanhouri demonstrates how national issues impact everyday lives in "Our Beloved Sudan."

Using the story of a mixed-race family to personalize a nation’s troubled history, multihyphenate Taghreed Elsanhouri demonstrates how national issues impact everyday lives in “Our Beloved Sudan.” Though working on a shoestring budget (and it shows), Elsanhouri got access to major players in the country’s internecine conflicts, and was on hand for the recent independence of South Sudan. Balancing rare archival footage, interviews and a deeply touching personal story, the docu makes up in interest what it lacks in style. Given the paucity of Sudanese films, fests and docu channels should take note.

During a lull in tensions between north and south, Amira Alteraify was born to a southern woman and a northern man. When President Gafaar al-Nimeiry allied with the Islamists, any semblance of unity disintegrated, and as the country split, so too did Amira’s family. Elsanhouri adds an Oprah-like meeting between Amira, her mother and step-mother that plays like bad afternoon TV, but otherwise the pic is a cogently argued, well-constructed docu examining the bitter divisions and the inevitability of secession. Elsanhouri has a pleasant voice, but the docu would be better served with an actor as narrator.

Our Beloved Sudan

Docu - Sudan

Production

A Taghreed Elsanhouri Films production. Produced by Elsanhouri. Executive producer, Jihan El-Tahri. Directed, written by Taghreed Elsanhouri.

Crew

Camera (color, DigiBeta), Yasar Seilf Al Deen Al Disouqi; editor, Mohamad Mustapha. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (market), Feb. 15, 2012. (Also in Dubai Film Festival -- Muhr Arab Documentary.) Running time: 92 MIN.

With

Amira Alteraify, Sadiq al-Mahdi, Joseph Lagu, Rebecca Garang, Pagan Amum, Hassan al-Turabi, Yasir Arman, Mohammed Wardi. Narrator: Taghreed Elsanhouri. (Arabic, English dialogue)

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