Al-Sit

In this part of the world most of us take for granted the amount of choice we have over our lives. Such is not the case for everyone. For instance, if you are a 15-year-old girl living in the Sudan who you marry is totally out of your hands. That decision is made for you by your parents and maybe village elders. Director/screenwriter Susannah Mirghani’s short film Al-Sit deals with just that subject.

Nafisa (Mihad Murtada – first film) is 15 and this is the age where most girls get married where she comes from in Sudan. She and her family reside in a cotton-farming area of the country. The family is receiving a visitor. Not just any visitor but a young man and businessman named Nadir (Mohammed Magdi Hassan), who has come to meet the family of his bride-to-be, Nafisa. Nadir does not live in Sudan.

The problem with that is that Nafisa has fallen for Babiker (Talaat Farid). The final step for the arranged marriage is for Nafisa’s grandmother, Al-Sit (Rabeha Mohammed Mahmoud), to approve of Nadir. Nafisa spends the time a mostly silent observer wondering if she will be able to decide upon her own future.

At its heart, this is a film about women in Sudan. Their lives and how they are lived. Subjects like arranged marriages, matriarchs and women are central to the story. How even in societies where the power structure is clear there is a push for change. How the new try to make their way within the world created by the older. Examination of what t means to a person’s life to be powerless over it. What the relationship is between the powerful and powerless. How in the same society an older and respected female member of a community can be the most powerful person whereas young girls are totally powerless. This exists side by side. How there are some, even against all odds, who will attempt or fight for change.

Everything about the short makes it feel a lot like you are watching a poem – the clothes, action, locations, and cinematography. A lot of thought and care obviously went into the making of Al-Sit.

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