The International Coalition for Filmmakers at Risk (ICFR*) and its founding institutions, the European Film Academy, International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam and International Film Festival Rotterdam together with the Venice International Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival, Berlinale, Sundance Film Festival, BFI London Film Festival, Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, Visions du Reel, Venice Critic’s Week, European Audiovisual Entrepreneurs (EAVE), New Zealand International Film Festival, Thessaloniki International Film Festival, Durban International Film Festival, DOK Leipzig, the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture, DOX BOX and PEN America’s Artists at Risk Connection call for the Sudanese authorities to immediately and unconditionally release filmmaker Hajooj Kuka and the four artists imprisoned with him.

Hajooj Mohamed Haj Omar (hajooj kuka) is a prominent Sudanese filmmaker and member of the Academy of Motion Picture§§ Arts and Sciences. As a director of both documentary and fiction films, his work has received critical acclaim world-wide. Born in Sudan, Kuka studied in Lebanon and in the United States and currently resides in Sudan. His documentary BEATS OF THE ANTONOV on war, music and the resilience of the people of the Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains, won the People’s Choice Award at 2014 Toronto International Film Festival, in addition to six other film festival awards. Due to his work, he was listed in the Foreign Policy Magazine as one of the Leading Global Thinkers of 2014. In 2018, Hajooj Kuka’s first narrative feature film AKASHA premiered at the Venice Film Festival and was nominated for Best Film at the Venice International Film Critics Week. Alongside his filmmaking, he also teaches drama and filmmaking to young artists in Khartoum and is the co-founder of the Refugee Club, an alliance of Sudanese artists whose work reflects an awareness of the transitory state of migration.

On 10 August 2020, Hajooj Kuka was arrested together with ten other artists from the Civic Lab in Khartoum, where they were rehearsing a theatre play. After being detained and assaulted by the police, the Central Khartoum Primary Court issued a verdict against five of the ten young artists, falsely accusing them of public annoyance stipulated in Article 69 of the Criminal Code and Article 77 on disruption of public safety. On 17 September 2020, Hajooj Kuka and four other artists have been sentenced to two months of imprisonment and a fine of 5,000 SDG (76 EUR).

We are very concerned about the safety of Hajooj Kuka and his fellow artists and call on the Sudanese authorities to immediately and unconditionally release him and his fellow artists and encourage all film and culture institutions around the world to do the same.

Mike Downey and Marion Döring, President and Director European Film Academy
Orwa Nyrabia and Cees van ‘t Hullenaar, Artistic Director and Executive Director International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam
Vanja Kaludjercic and Marjan van der Haar, Director and Executive Director International Film Festival Rotterdam

Alberto Barbera, Artistic Director Venice International Film Festival
Cameron Bailey and Joana Vicente, Artistic Director and Executive Director Toronto International Film Festival
Carlo Chatrian, Artistic Director Berlinale
Keri Putnam and Tabitha Jackson, Executive Director and Festival Director Sundance Film Festival
Tricia Tuttle, Director BFI London Film Festival
Karel Och, Director Karlovy Vary International Film Festival
Emilie Bujès, Artistic Director Visions du Reel Giona Nazzaro, General Delegate Venice Critic’s Week
Tina Trapp, CEO EAVE (European Audiovisual Entrepreneurs) Marten Rabarts, Director New Zealand International Film Festival
Elise Jalladeau, General Director Thessaloniki International Film Festival Christoph Terhechte, Artistic Director DOK Leipzig
Chipo Zhou, Head of Programming Durban International Film Festival
Rima Mismar, Director Arab Fund for Arts and Culture
Jihan El-Tahri, General Director DOX BOX
Julie Trébault, Director Artists at Risk Connection, PEN America

*Founded by the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam, International Film Festival Rotterdam and the European Film Academy, the International Coalition for Filmmakers at Risk’s mission is to advocate for and to act in solidarity with filmmakers at risk. The Coalition acts in cases of persecution or threats to the personal safety of these filmmakers and will defend their right to continue their work, by mobilising the international film community.

Thessaloniki International Film Festival