The ongoing Juba film festival is shining a spotlight on the film industry in South Sudan. This is a film festival with a twist, as its main aim is to jumpstart the film industry in a country that many associate with war. South Sudan is the world’s newest nation and has suffered from a long war and at times tense political situation. The Juba film festival is working to correct stereotypes of South Sudan in foreign media by making films that tell everyday stories.


Simon “Bingo” Lokwang Paul, the founder of the film festival, grew up in a refugee camp in northern Kenya before going on to study film in Nairobi. Paul moved back to Juba in anticipation of South Sudan’s independence, where he is now a personality on local TV. He described the film festival as a “creative, peaceful revolt.”  This revolt comes through South Sudanese using the medium of film to tell their own stories.



Twenty South Sudanese filmmakers are taking part in the film festival with the aim of creating four movies before the festival ends in July. These films will be screened at the festival’s end, July 7, two days before South Sudan’s independence. The film festival started last month in April with a workshop and pop-up film school for young filmmakers. Barefoot Workshops, a not-for-profit body offering workshops in documentary film making; and What Took You So Long, experts in guerrilla filmmaking acted as mentors for the festival. Experienced filmmakers from both organizations shared techniques and industry insights with the public and high school students.


The Juba film festival will also showcase new talent and unveil pioneering work, while providing support for local filmmakers and encouraging collaboration within the community. The festival is the first of its kind in South Sudan and is funded through the United States Agency for International Development, as well as a grant from Internews. Other sponsors include the Goethe Institute, Acacia Hotel, and  Al Wahida Newspaper, among others.


How effective is filmmaking in challenging stereotypes? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below or on Twitter @rafeeeeta