Gadalla Gubara and the Half-life of Sudanese Cinema


Sometime, in another life, in another world, he danced in the nightclubs of Khartoum. There were women, lots of them. Empires, kings, and presidents. He saw them all through the lens of a brand-new Arriflex camera. He was the only person to own one in Sudan. His name was Gadalla Gubara, and he was the father of Sudanese cinema. Then everything went dark. There were only voices, coming over the airwaves. Hour after hour he sat in his chair, resting his head against a radio he held with both hands. He looked like a turtle, head sunk into his shoulders, though he would straighten up suddenly when he heard a song he recognized, and he would sing along, in a voice that belied his frailty. It was that voice, and his hands — pinching my bottom, if I wasn’t careful — that helped me imagine what he must have been like, before. The cabinets in the tiny one-bedroom house where he lived were filled with the memorabilia of his life, all in careless disarray, useless to him. There were manifestos from the early days of the Federation of Pan-African Cinema (FEPACI), pictures from travels abroad to film festivals in Moscow and Paris and Berlin. Pictures of women. There was a strange intimacy to sitting beside him and looking at photographs he himself could no longer see. The world they depicted seemed far away from the insulting obscurity of his existence.

more from Nadja Korinth at Bidoun here.