This article is machine translated by Google from Norwegian
A documentary portrait of a bunch of female soccer players portrays living conditions in Sudan for those who dare to live an unconventional life. In a film spiced up with sharp comments and oblique looks, teammates share their fight against bureaucracy, prejudice and poor finances. They sing love songs as they dribble. The dream is not at all to meet the right one, but to play at a national women's national team in the World Cup.
Under Sudan's military Muslim rule, it is illegal for women to play football, the film's initial text says. The recording period has, however, gone over the last five years – a time of change with major changes politically and for the individual. The film was completed just before the revolution, which Sudanese women actively participated in. Khartoum Offside is one of many recent films from this North African country that gives access to completely different people and environments than those shown previously. Much of this has to do with the long-standing ban on filming which was first officially lifted in April this year. Sudanese Marwa Zein completed her film studies in Egypt, Cairo, and this is her first feature film.
The style is strangely straightforward. The director has a good tone with the characters in the film, and they address her directly and unashamedly. There is also a more intimate scene in the film where the camera glides over the naked skin of one of the protagonists without eroticizing it. Much is conveyed between the lines of this documentary. The team members have brought FIFA and their own football federation, but they need a law change to succeed in their desire to participate at the top international level. Throughout the film, we realize that laws and practices vary greatly depending on who and on what scale the action is performed. Accepting individual instances of girl football on a dry land on the outskirts of Khartoum is something quite different from approving professional women's football at the international competition level.
Sorrows and unity
The documentary invites us into the team members' everyday moments, where grief and unity are shared. Through a braid of these small episodes, the film promotes a greater reflection: Sara, the team's coach and pioneer, is characterized by a rough life, but still challenges the fate of drinking openly on the streets and being arrested. 40 whipping is the penalty. Resilient and a little proud she talks about how to quickly overcome swelling and pain.
Another example is when the boy girl Hinda tells about her uncle who happened to discover that she was a goalkeeper. Telling her that the others revealed to her by shouting that she should take the ball, this is just as much about the persistent oppression they are all exposed to.
At the same time, this is not where the pressure in the story lies. In her retelling of the story, Hinda is more concerned that the ball went to the finish than the uncle dragged her away.
Throughout the film, we realize that laws and practices vary greatly depending on
who and on what scale the action is performed.
A pervasive theme in the film is how all of the football players take on different jersey jobs to finance the rent of a closed grass football field exclusively for ladies. Only a brief comment says that this is to avoid unfair talk and other degrading harassment from those who do not tolerate women's soccer. The film cultivates the community of these wonderfully robust and moody enthusiasts rather than dwelling on the conflicts they face. Precisely this warm optimism contrasted with the low-key sub-narrative creates a dynamic and an engaging drive inward into their lives, a place where I like the end of the film would stay longer. The grip makes me eager to know more about these fearless sportswomen and their community that keeps them up in thin and thick.
Khartoum Offside will appear at this year's
Movies from the South festival, 7. – 17. November in Oslo.