“STUDIO GAD” – Digitising a film archive

Gadalla Gubara worked for over 50 years as a camera man, director and film producer. Until his death in 2008, he ran the first private cinema studio in Khartoum: Studio Gad. His diverse legacy comprises documentaries, image films, advertisings, news reels and feature films. The moving images document Sudan’s transformation from a colony to an independent state, the post-independent euphoria, the industrialisation efforts as well as the different governments and their policies until the current Islamic regime.

In light of a lack of financial resources as well as precarious storage conditions, advanced levels of material decay were threatening the very existence of his cinematic heritage. Considering that “Studio Gad” is the only private cinema archive in Sudan, the family of Gadalla Gubara felt an immediate urgency to save the unique films for current and future generations within the country and abroad.

Contact was established with the Arsenal institute for film and video art in Berlin, which has a history of offering a save haven to rare and unseen films. With the funding from the German Foreign Office’s Cultural Heritage Program, a large part of Gadalla Gubara’s archive was digitised in two project phases in 2013 and 2016. The materials include film prints and working prints as well as unedited footage. In most cases, it was only the film prints that have synchronous sound. A large part of the film holdings display considerable material damage caused by the heat of Sudan and often show a strong red tinge.

For the initial phase of the project, in 2013, The University of Bergen made a film scanner available, which allowed a large portion of the 16 and 35 mm positive and negative materials to be digitised.
In 2016, within the second working phase, the German Foreign Office’s Cultural Heritage Program funded further digitisation with a focus on the feature films “Tajooj” (1979) and “Les Miserables” (2007). These films were digitised by the specialised laboratory “Kornmanufaktur” in Berlin. Several public screenings of the films took place in Khartoum, Berlin and Johannesburg. Currently more public events are bring prepared and continued work on the cataloguing of the films is being realised.

„The Film Holdings of Gadalla Gubara“ is a project by Arsenal – Institute for Film and Video Art conceived and carried out by Nadja Korinth and Katharina von Schroeder in collaboration with the Gubara family.
The project was made possible with funding from the Cultural Heritage Preservation Program of the German Foreign Office with the support of the German Embassy in Khartoum.

All film rights/copy rights remain with the family Gadalla.