You Will Die at Twenty
A rare international release from Sudan, Amjad Abu Alala’s visually exquisite film strikes the perfect balance between reality and a fable-like world.
Sakina (Islam Mubarak) is joyous at having given birth to a baby boy. But when she takes him to a religious ceremony for a blessing, she is informed that Muzamil will not live past his twentieth birthday. Heartbroken, his father Alnoor (Talal Afifi) leaves for foreign lands, preferring to work abroad than deal with his boy’s fate. Meanwhile, Muzamil (played by Moatasem Rashid as a young boy and Mustafa Shehata as a teen) has to grow up with the knowledge that his fate has already been decided. If that is the case, what’s to stop him living what life he has as he chooses to?
You Will Die at Twenty exudes a mythic quality, emphasised by the way Alala and cinematographer Sébastien Goepfert capture the rural landscape. The film is rich in burnt colours and scenes possess a haunting quality. These are matched by an excellent ensemble, with Mubarak particularly good as Muzamil’s mother.