Movie Short Review: ‘Al-Sit’

Greetings again from the darkness. Nafisa (Mihad Murtada) is a typical teenage girl who picks cotton daily alongside her friends in the fields of their rural Sudan community. She flirts with a local boy while her friends ‘ooh and ahh’ knowing that her parents have already selected Nafisa’s husband.

Writer-director Suzannah Mirghani expertly captures the essence of this culture and contrasts Nafisa’s total lack of say in her partner in marriage with the power wielded by the local Matriarch, Al-Sit (Rabeha Mohammed Mahmoud). Nafisa’s parents have chosen Nadir (Mohammed Magdi Hassan) for their daughter because he’s a successful businessman. His family is from this village, but he now lives abroad and speaks a language of revenue that no one here understands.

Filmmaker Mirghani’s cast and crew are 99% Sudanese (with no acting experience), and that, along with the cinematography of Khaled Awad, give us the feeling of being present as these awkward conversations and life-altering decisions occur. We’ve seen the process for arranged marriages in many films, but the fascinating element here is the motivation behind Al-Sit’s decision.

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