Sudanese director Ibrahim Shaddad's experimental film, "Insan" is memorable (to say the least). With no spoken narrative to guide me as I watched it, I was disoriented for a while, but eventually, I was able to put two and two together. It's a short film- 27 minutes- but that is more than made up for by the powerful story line: a herdsman undergoes a series of crises that cause him to lose his wife, his livelihood, and eventually, his hand. Quite a sad conclusion to what started out looking like a simple film about a villager's adventures in the city.
Particularly striking is the setting of the film. The film was released in 1987, a few years after the debilitating drought in Western Sudan. Was the film a reflection of that experience? Unfortunately, my grasp of Sudanese history is very weak, so that question will remain unanswered for now.
Truthfully, my interest in the film had nothing to do with intellectual engagement. I watched the film for the same reason that I once watched "Out of Africa": because it was shot at "home". I've never been to the Sudan, but it's just North of my country, and I was curious to see whether the landscape was one I would recognize, and whether I would notice some cultural continuities. Not surprisingly, there were several cultural continuities and in some strange way, I felt like Khartoum (I imagine this was the city portrayed in the film) looked kind of familiar.
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