You Will Die at Twenty
Moatasem Rashid, Islam Mubarak, Mustafa Shehata, Talal Afifi, Mahmoud Elsaraj
The debut of Amjad Abu Alala, which won the Lion of the Future Award at 2019’s Venice Film Festival, You Will Die at Twenty expands from a fable-like premise to create a culturally specific, morally compelling story. Muzamil (Moatasem Rashid) is raised by his mother Sakina (Islam Mubarek) with a heavy weight over him: it has been predicted by a sheikh that he will die at 20. His father has fled to work abroad, with Muzamil an outcast as the “son of death”. Set during Omar al-Bashir’s dictatorship, Muzamil’s outsider status brings him into contact with others whom society would sooner forget, as he walks a line between religious absolution and shaking himself free from the curse.
Full of immediately striking images and a visual intelligence in smaller moments, the film’s interiors are shot with an uncanny warmth and exteriors highlighting the breadth of Sudan’s vistas. An assured debut, visually bold and morally nuanced, You Will Die at Twenty brings a humane reality to living under a religious dictatorship.