By Fatima Husain
Sudanese documentary filmmaker Hajooj Kuka’s debut feature film aKasha is a tale of an unlikely love triangle between a soldier, a girl and an AK-47.
aKasha is set in the Nuba Mountains region of the rebel-held areas of Sudan where the civil war has seen no feasible solution since its outbreak in 2011. The film takes a comedic approach to the only break available to all fighting factions – due to the mud that accumulates during the rainy season. The rebel soldiers then return home to their families, taking advantage of the pause.
aKasha means ‘Round-up’ in Sudanese and is an annual exercise where the rebels are rounded up for their return to the war front. It is at this point Hajooj begins his offbeat comedy.
Adnan (Kamal Ramadan) and Lina (Ekram Marcus) make love in Lina’s hut and soon break into a trivial argument. Lina, then seizes Adnan’s AK-47 gun – Nancy, his prized possession and forces him out of her hut. Adnan, with his pants barely pulled up, runs into Absi (Ganja Chakado) – a young man who’s trying to dodge the fighting.
What follows next is a wild goose case: failed attempts at retrieving Nancy, escaping the annual aKasha and sustaining love.
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aKasha is director Hajooj Kuka’s first feature and marks his return to TIFF – having bagged the People’s Choice Documentary Award for Beats of the Antonov in 2014.
In an exclusive Interview with VIBE105 News Desk Coordinator Fatima Husain, Director Hajooj Kuka said: “aKasha is less informative and more about capturing the essence of everyday lives in areas affecting by the ongoing civil war in Sudan.”
Kuka’s activism and interest in the arts triggered his passion for filmmaking. He also serves as a war correspondent in the Nuba Mountains regions – a place which barely receives media coverage – for the International community and for documentation purposes in order to educate the future generations.
Kuka said: “It is important for me to amplify the voices of those folks living in marginalised areas and for people living in cities to know what is happening in those areas.”
aKasha is a comedic follow-up to Beats of the Antonov. According to Kuka: “One of the most important questions that rose after Beats was – why don’t we celebrate our blackness?
And one of the easily noticed things in aKasha is that we have very beautiful people who are black. As a side note, people have remarked: ‘Oh they’re so beautiful.’ Just by being black and us, we’ve succeeded.”
aKasha is punctuated with reflections of Kuka’s documentary style, flavoured with clear observations about intricate details blended with smooth camera work. The actors – who were local to the Nuba Mountains of Sudan - appeared amateur for the onscreen job. Comedy was however, clever and well written. The edits could have been tighter to enhance cinematic experience.
Nonetheless, aKasha was a fresh and raw peek into the cultural and socio-political trends of the youth of current day Sudan – amidst years of tension and war. Besides, it is not often one witnesses Sudanese features at film festivals in the West.
*Editor’s Note: aKasha as screened at the Toronto International Film Festival ‘18.
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