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33. Talking About Trees; movie review

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Title : 33. Talking About Trees; movie review
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Cert PG
93 mins
BBFC advice: Contains references to violence

Imagine living in a country where there is no legal access to the cinema
People in Sudan risk arrest by putting on shows so can only glance longingly into memory banks to recall a once-thriving movie scene.
Talking About Trees is an unintentional complementary piece to La Belle At The Movies which told a similar story about the Democratic Republic Of Congo.
Its spotlight falls upon Ibrahim, Suleiman, Manar and Altayeb who have been friends for more than 45 years and have a passion to put on a free picture show.
The men left their homeland in the 1960s and 1970s to study film abroad and founded the Sudanese Film Group in 1989.
After decades of distance or exile, they reunite with the ambition of bringing cinema, which was once a cultural bedrock, back to Sudan.
The men are full of gusto, loving each other's company as they tell tales of the past, try to make a difference in the present and leave a legacy for the future.
Suhaib Gasmelbari's documentary follows them as they go from having the initial idea of staging a free screening.
Their obstacles are many and varied but the men never lose the love of their project nor their sense of humour.
This is all the more surprising because they briefly refer to past imprisonment because of their politics.
Indeed, there is a clear implication that making this documentary could result in them being detained by one of the many government arms responsible for state security.
The latter believe that cinema is a threat and could spark subversive actions.
Actually, documentaries such as Talking About Trees are probably too light to encourage mass demonstrations but are an important pinprick to authorities who believe the boot can stifle the brain.
It also gives a rare insight into Sudan - a country which has been deliberately cut off from the world.

Reasons to watch: A fight in adversity which should make us grateful for what we have
Reasons to avoid: Meanders too much

Laughs: None
Jumps: None
Vomit: None
Nudity: None
Overall rating: 7/10

Did you know? Sudan saw some of the earliest filmmaking to take place in the British colonies: John Benett-Stanford, a soldier-turned-war-correspondent, shot footage of British troops in 1898, just before the Battle of Omdurman.

The final word. Suhaib Gasmelbari: "Talking About Trees is the tale of their 45 years of attempting to make and to show films and of the tireless hope that unites them forever, the story of a struggle of four crafty men with a witty sense of humour.”

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