You will Die at Twenty
Maybe? We don’t know…
For the first time, ever, Sudan is submitting a film to the Oscars. For a country with an art scene that has been suppressed by an autocrat (Omar Al-Bashir), this is huge news. Especially, as an African. Okay, maybe not in that intensity. But it’s huge news! Let’s explain why!
You will Die at Twenty, the film in question, was made by Amjad Abu Alala in a time where Sudan was going through a revolution and suppressing art was the norm. And to come out with a film of this level of quality, dealing with such a subject matter is amazing!
This is the story of a young man who was prophesied to die at twenty by a Sufi-Dervish right at his birth. Since then, he becomes burdened with this shadow, where even his mother wears black awaiting his death.
The film is chock full of references to Sufism, traditional religions and delves deep into the heavy philosophical and existential crisis when everyone around you is already preparing for your funeral. It changes how you experience everything.
Abu Alala and his film made the festival rounds from Egypt’s El Gouna Film Festival (it won the top prize there) to TIFF. It was one of the best films of 2020 (or 19 depending on your region… Netflix Jail sucks) and it’s a film that announces boldly that Sudan, and Africa in extension, can tell its own stories and they’re not just about war and tribalism.
It’s a sight to see! It didn’t make it to the Oscars but hey… doing it right twice would be asking too much. Right?