You Will Die at Twenty, dir. Amjad Abu Alala, Sudan / France / Egypt / Germany / Norway / Qatar 2019, 105 min., Arabic with English subtitles, 12A
At Muzamil’s baptism ceremony in a Sudanese Sufi village, a sheikh prophesies that the young boy will meet his death at the age of 20 – a prophecy that comes to inform his entire childhood. His mother Sakina (Islam Mubarak) quickly grows overprotective, keeping the boy out of school. His father Alnoor (Talal Afifi) leaves home, weakened by worry. And his fellow villagers taunt the child, referring to him as ‘the son of death’. Only when he meets Suleiman (Mahmoud Elsaraj), a fellow outsider, does the boy start to find his own path through life.
Based on Sleeping at the Foot of the Mountain, a short story by acclaimed Sudanese writer Hammour Ziada, Amjad Abu Alala’s searching and powerful examination of the conflict between traditional values and modern aspirations won the Lion of the Future award for the best debut feature at the 2019 Venice International Film Festival.