The crime rate in Sudan is on the rise, although it is still considerably low. Besides the commonly reported crimes of corruption and bribery, the most common types of crimes in Sudan are theft and vandalism.
In the new and upcoming short film, “Nyerkuk”, a story of an impoverished life that survives on theft is told through the eyes of Nyerkuk, a young boy who, after escaping the war-torn borders of Sudan and losing his family, seeks refuge in the capital city, Khartoum, where he tries to make a living off of robbing wealthy homes. But Nyerkuk does not do it alone. He is taken under the wings of a thug who has convinced him and other young girls and boys that a life of theft is the only way to survive for homeless war orphans like them.
Produced by the Sudanese video production house, Kordofani Films, “Nyerkuk” portrays how war and poverty can lead to crimes such as robbery and murder. “War creates internally displaced children, poverty, class inequality and questions about the divine justice,” said 33-year-old filmmaker Mohammed Kordofani, founder of Kordofani Films.
The story of “Nyerkuk” will hit home for many Sudanese viewers who deal with war impacts such as poverty and robbery almost daily. For Kordofani, the story of “Nyerkuk” was born when he visited the Mygoma Orphanage in Sudan. “It is not directly related to the story but that is what inspired me to write the script,” he said.
Based in Bahrain, Kordofani is a full-time aircraft engineer and a part-time filmmaker. He only discovered his love for filmmaking when he had to re-edit his wedding video because his wife was unhappy with it. “I enjoyed every bit of the process and wanted to edit my own footage. So I bought a camera, enrolled in a one-year independent filmmaking course and watched every Youtube video and tutorial about filmmaking on the internet,” said Kordofani. He then founded Kordofoni Films in 2014.
Nyerkuk is one of many films produced by Kordofani Films. “The company primarily specializes in producing independent films. However, Kordofani Films also produces advertisement videos, corporate videos and event coverage to sustain the project financially and to be able to invest in some new gear and equipment,” explained Kordofani.
In 2015, Kordofani Films produced two music videos for Aswat Al Madina, featuring Ibraheem Ibn Albadia as the lead actor. Kordofani Films also produced “Gone For Gold”, a fiction film about two desperate young men who go searching for gold in the desert motivated by their dreams. “A film is probably the most popular form of visual art today and that makes it a very powerful tool. I am not sure if it can change lives but it sure does give people new perspectives,” explains Kordofani.
Through Kordofani Films, Kordofani is portraying stories of Sudanese life. “In Sudan, I feel that there are miles-long gaps of misunderstanding between people who have somehow been segregated socially, politically, ethnically or geographically. I believe films can definitely bridge some of these gaps and can slowly but surely bring people together,” he said. “Luckily enough Sudanese filmmaking is finally waking up with some very notable efforts from young and enthusiastic individuals and initiatives like Sudan Film Factory and others.”
Joining Kordofani on the “Nyerkuk” crew are Mahmoud Elamin, the production manager; Mohamed Alomdaa, the assistant director; and filmmaking mentor, Amjad Abu Alalaa. “I introduced myself and the idea and then asked them to join me, and so they did. The same thing happened with the talented musician Shaf Ahmed who designed the sound and composed the soundtrack, and Khaled Awad, the cinematographer who also hooked us up with some sharp lenses,” noted Kordofani.
Nyerkuk is the latest project coming out of Kordofani Films, but they’re also working on a screenwriting competition to encourage talented writers to join the production house. “The winner will get an award, a cash prize and his or her screenplay will be turned into a film produced by Kordofani Films. He or she will also get to be on-set and help the crew turn his screenplay into a motion picture,” said Kordofani.
Like many independent films, the making of “Nyerkuk” was challenging. The cast includes young actors such as the lead actor playing Nyerkuk. “Working with children is not easy. We had to appoint a supervisor to keep an eye on them at all times to ensure their safety. She would also rehearse with them and liaise with their parents on shooting days,” said Kordofani. However, according to him, the biggest challenge was keeping schedule. “Sometimes we would be on set for 13 or 14 hours straight and the actors would fall asleep while we block a shot or set up the lights,” Kordofani explained. Some parts had to be shot in the busy streets of Riyadh, Khartoum. Although permits are required for shooting in public areas, it is a long and unclear procedure. “We had to take our chance so we planned our shots carefully and rehearsed them indoors before we went out with a shoulder mounted camera and slate. Fortunately nobody bothered us and our gear was not confiscated,” Kordofani said.
Nyerkuk will leave viewers with many questions about the linkages of war, poverty and crime, but will also intrigue their minds with the complex expressions of human behaviors related to compassion, fear and loyalty. Do people become criminals as a consequence of the environment? How do we find justice? And how do we as a society help combat crime? Most importantly, questions about the consequences of living in a war-torn country with political and economical instability will surface. “I don’t know which issue people will grasp onto the most but I think the one that they are likely to passively consume is war. Sadly after decades of war, we’ve somehow become numb to the war topic,” said Kordofani.
Kordofani aims to show Nyerkuk for the very first time in Sudan by the end of July 2016. Once the film is screened in Sudan, the world will get an opportunity to see it in international film festivals.
To know more about Nyerkuk’s film screenings and other films by Kordofani Films, visit their Facebook page.