4:30pm SATURDAY, 9/29 — Documentary Short Film Block

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(Documentary, United States, Subtitled) A long-standing civil war in the Nuba Mountains of Sudan and a government chokehold on media fuels the creation of a satirical puppet show, Bisha TV, to spread news of the conflict. Ganja, the pacifist son of a rebel commander, travels the countryside with a puppet of President Omar al-Bashir, filming episodes for the wildly popular web series.

This short film weaves together the story of Ganja’s life in the Nuba Mountains, his creative process working under extraordinary conditions, and darkly hilarious scenes from “Bisha TV.” Through Ganja’s work- and the comic escapades of two Sudanese strongmen- we see an unlikely flowering of political humor and appreciate the true power of grassroots media.

RATING: Intended for Teen Audiences or older


Director: Roopa Gogineni

Roopa Gogineni is an award winning director and photographer from West Virginia, now based in Nairobi. Over the past seven years her work has focused on historical memory and life amidst conflict across East Africa.

Roopa holds an MSc in African Studies from the University of Oxford, where she researched the construction of media narratives around Somalia. She directed Somalia’s first reality show, an experience chronicled in NPR’s Invisibilia podcast.

Her most recent film, “I am Bisha,” told the story of a satirical puppet show in rebel-held Sudan. It earned the 2018 Full Frame Jury Award for Best Short, an Oscar-qualifying recognition, and is currently screening at festivals internationally. It will broadcast on the PBS World Channel.

Roopa has published photo stories documenting refugee camp restaurants in South Sudan, beachgoers in Mogadishu, and the historic Mau Mau case against the UK government for colonial-era abuses in Kenya. She also photographed for a book on women’s leadership in the rebuilding of post-genocide Rwanda, published by Duke University Press. Her photos have been exhibited in the Ian Parry Scholarship Group Show, at the Aperture Gallery, and at galleries in West Virginia and Copenhagen. She speaks Telugu, French, Spanish, Swahili and some Arabic.