Uses Film Artistry to Provide Context to Ongoing Wars in Sudan

    by Patricia J. Griffing
    Published: May 25, 2024 (3 weeks ago)

    In the midst of the ongoing conflicts that have plagued Sudan for decades, a new film is offering a powerful narrative that seeks to provide context and humanity to the crisis. “Goodbye Julia,” directed by Sudanese filmmaker Mohamed Kordofani, uses the medium of cinema to explore the personal and political dimensions of the war-torn nation. The film has garnered international attention for its poignant storytelling and evocative cinematography, shining a light on the complex realities faced by Sudanese people.

    A Story of Conflict and Compassion

    “Goodbye Julia” tells the story of two women from vastly different backgrounds whose lives become intertwined against the backdrop of Sudan’s civil war. The film follows Mona, a northern Sudanese woman, and Julia, a southern Sudanese Christian, as they navigate the turmoil and violence that threatens to tear their country apart. Their unexpected friendship becomes a microcosm of the broader conflicts and a testament to the possibility of understanding and reconciliation.

    “Through Mona and Julia’s journey, we wanted to show the human side of the conflict,” said Kordofani. “It’s easy to get lost in the headlines and statistics, but at the heart of it, these are real people with real stories and emotions.”

    Art Imitating Life

    The film’s narrative draws heavily from real-life events, reflecting the historical and ongoing tensions between the north and south of Sudan. Since gaining independence from Britain in 1956, Sudan has experienced numerous conflicts, including the First and Second Sudanese Civil Wars and the more recent Darfur conflict. The 2011 secession of South Sudan has not brought an end to the violence, as internal and cross-border strife continues to impact millions.

    Kordofani, whose family has been directly affected by the conflicts, uses “Goodbye Julia” as a means of processing and portraying these traumatic experiences. “This film is a way for me to deal with my own history and to help others understand the deeper issues at play,” he said.

    International Acclaim

    “Goodbye Julia” premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, where it received critical acclaim for its compelling narrative and artistic achievement. The film’s nuanced portrayal of the Sudanese conflict, combined with its rich visual storytelling, captivated audiences and sparked discussions about the global response to Sudan’s humanitarian crisis.

    Film critic Laura Miller praised the film in her review for The Guardian, writing, “‘Goodbye Julia’ is a masterclass in blending personal stories with political commentary. It’s a film that not only educates but also deeply moves its audience.”

    A Catalyst for Change

    Beyond its artistic success, “Goodbye Julia” aims to be a catalyst for change by raising awareness and encouraging dialogue about Sudan’s conflicts. The film’s producers have partnered with several international NGOs to use the film as an educational tool in workshops and discussions about peacebuilding and conflict resolution.

    “Art has the power to inspire action,” said Yara Mohammed, a representative from one of the partnering NGOs. “By bringing the realities of Sudan’s conflict to a wider audience, we hope to foster a greater understanding and commitment to supporting peace efforts.”

    A Message of Hope

    Despite the grim realities it portrays, “Goodbye Julia” ultimately carries a message of hope. The film emphasizes the importance of empathy and the potential for reconciliation, even in the most divided of societies. Through the evolving relationship between Mona and Julia, the film suggests that understanding and solidarity are possible paths toward healing.

    “We wanted to leave audiences with a sense of hope,” Kordofani said. “The road to peace is long and difficult, but through compassion and dialogue, we can start to move in the right direction.”


    “Goodbye Julia” stands as a significant cultural and artistic contribution, offering a deeply personal lens through which to view the ongoing conflicts in Sudan. By humanizing the stories behind the strife, the film not only educates but also evokes empathy and a desire for change. As it continues to garner international attention, “Goodbye Julia” is poised to make a lasting impact both within Sudan and beyond, reminding audiences of the enduring power of storytelling in the pursuit of peace.