Goodbye Julia, the First Sudanese Film to be Screened at Cannes Film Festival 

goodbye julia

The Sudanese film industry celebrates a groundbreaking moment as “Goodbye Julia,” the debut feature film by director Mohamed Kordofani, becomes the first Sudanese film to be screened at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival. Set to premiere on May 20, 2023, as part of the festival’s Un Certain Regard section, the film represents a significant milestone for Sudanese cinema.

“Goodbye Julia” delves into the intricate and complex relationship between two women who embody the contrasting characteristics of Northern and Southern Sudanese communities. Taking place in Khartoum during the final years of a united Sudan, the story unfolds against the backdrop of the impending 2011 secession of South Sudan. Kordofani, an accomplished Sudanese filmmaker renowned for his works such as “Nyerkuk,” “Kejers Prison,” and “A Tour In Love Republic,” brings his narrative prowess to this highly anticipated film.

The film’s production is spearheaded by Amjad Abu Alala, the director of “You Will Die at Twenty,” which received critical acclaim and won the Lion of the Future award for best first feature at the Venice Film Festival in 2019. Alala’s involvement lends further weight to the project, enhancing its potential for success.

“Goodbye Julia” caught the attention of ARP Sélection, a prominent French arthouse distributor known for its remarkable portfolio, including acclaimed titles such as “EO,” “The Whale,” and “No Bears.” ARP Sélection acquired the film for distribution in France, emphasizing the emotional depth, narrative power, and artistic beauty emanating from this Sudanese debut. Michèle Halberstadt of ARP expressed her admiration for the film, stating, “We are extremely moved by this debut film, which positions Sudan on the map of world cinema.” This collaboration also marks an exciting partnership with MAD Solutions, a leading distribution and sales agent in the Middle East.

The road to Cannes has been far from smooth for the filmmakers of “Goodbye Julia.” Tragically, just two days after the announcement of the film’s selection, Sudan was plunged into civil war, adding yet another chapter to the country’s long history of violent conflicts. Reflecting the resilience of Sudanese filmmakers, the struggles faced during the production of “Goodbye Julia” mirror the challenges the nation endures. Amjad Abu Alala affirms that Sudanese filmmakers cannot wait for stability; they must constantly fight for their artistic expression.

The historical context of the film serves as a crucial backdrop for its narrative. Set against the events leading up to the South Sudanese independence referendum in 2011, where an overwhelming 98.8% of southerners voted for secession, “Goodbye Julia” captures the essence of the Sudanese people’s journey toward reconciliation.

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Director Mohamed Kordofani expressed his hopes for the film, stating that it could be a catalyst for a movement of reconciliation among all Sudanese people in the war-ravaged country. With the powerful performances of Eiman Yousif, Sudanese supermodel Siran Riak making her big-screen acting debut, and renowned actor Ger Duany, known for his role in “The Nile Hilton Incident,” “Goodbye Julia” promises to captivate audiences with its compelling storytelling.

The acquisition of “Goodbye Julia” by ARP Sélection is not only a testament to the film’s artistic merit but also signifies a turning point for the Sudanese film industry. Alaa Karkouti and Maher Diab, co-founders of MAD Solutions, express their delight at the partnership with ARP Sélection, confident that the film is in the capable hands of a distributor renowned for championing boundary-pushing and thought-provoking cinema.

As “Goodbye Julia” takes its place among the illustrious lineup of films at the Cannes Film Festival, Sudanese cinema emerges onto the world stage, leaving an indelible mark and opening doors for future filmmakers from the region. This historic moment highlights the power of storytelling and the ability of film to bridge gaps, foster understanding, and bring about positive change.

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