No Simple Way Home
In 2005, after decades fighting against Islamic dominance in the Republic of Sudan, John Garang de Mabior became the first president of Southern Sudan, a majority Christian breakaway region of the country’s southern states. He was in office for less than a month before dying in a helicopter crash, never living to see the formal independence of the Republic of South Sudan in 2011. His daughter, Akuol de Mabior, who was born and raised outside of the country, returns to what is still undeniably her homeland to make a documentary about her family’s history and identity, and how that intermingles with the country’s struggles for its own identity.
The film charts the evolution of de Mabior’s relationship with her own lineage, while also providing an illuminating portrait of the troubled and tangled political history of the Republic of South Sudan. Her history and that of the country are intricately linked, meaning that the documentary becomes more like a personal video essay. It’s subjective by default, but the first-person narrative of the documentary, and its subsequently highly personal nature, gives the piece an added dimension of warmth – almost raising the stakes.
It’s unnecessary to have any prior knowledge of the political and religious manoeuvres that led to South Sudan declaring independence from the northern regions. These are capably summarised by de Mabior herself as she narrates her work. The voiceovers are wonderfully written and spoken, poetic yet precise; never descending into excessively florid or ornate language. It must have taken a great deal of discipline to craft a documentary that features and encompasses herself and her family (with her mother’s high-minded political ambitions taking a key role), but this approach gives the piece a definitive throughline, making it all the more engaging.
No Simple Way Home is as much about de Mabior herself as it is about her country. She talks about feeling a sense of duty to the Republic of South Sudan. Although she doesn’t explicitly say it, there’s the impression that this documentary is part of that duty
No Simple Way Home does not have a UK release date yet.
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