You Will Die at Twenty
(Satamoto fel eshreen)
Mustafa Shehata, Islam Mubark, Mahmoud Elsaraj,
In this visually entrancing film debut from Sudan, religious superstition places a heavy burden on a young man’s life. Faced with a sheikh’s dire prediction of an early death, new mom Sakina becomes overprotective of her son Muzamil, while local boys call him the “son of death.” Seeking a normal adolescence without this anvil over his head, Muzamil finds solace in religion and cinema and develops a crush on a girl. Though the protagonist’s prophesied demise gives the film an undeniable gravity, director Amjad Abu Alala leavens it with warm humanism and graceful camerawork. “Beautifully composed and boasting the kind of sensitivity to light sources and color tonalities usually ascribed to top photographers, the film lovingly depicts the remote east-central region of Sudan as a quasi-magical place of sand, sky, and the colors of the Nile. The story . . . generally has an equally clear-cut quality, simple in the telling yet matched to the pictorial tenor” (Jay Weissberg, Variety).