A dialogue with the director and producer Saif Al-Din Hassan
His name shined bright in the outer space with a series of his wonderful documentary films “The Land of brown ” and other films, that made many people flock to Sudan to see this breathtaking beauty that robbed
their hearts before their eyes. Which made many Arab and African satellite channels imitate his style in
series that reflect the history of their countries in the same way, but it is not possible for this Asmar (brown)
to imitate or simulate, he got his own style that doesn’t look like anyone. He has more than fifteen
documentary films that have won international prizes, including “Shabby Shalk – Crocodile Hunter – Sun
Boat of other riverbank- Route of Forty ” and other very impressive documentaries, and it was not
extraordinary for him to grab the first prize at the last Tunisian Documentary Film Festival in the series “
Salil Al-Faradis (Descendant of paradise)”. This beautiful brown director and producer Mister/ Saif El-Din
Hassan speaks to us about the secret of his success and timeless creations.
What was the effect of the environment in which you grew up on your
I was born and brought up on the island of Labab, in the far north of Sudan, in a homogeneous region of
African and Arab tribes. And when you mention Labab island, what comes to mind is its historical role in
exploding the Mahdist revolution.
This wonderful environment shaped the creative inspiration, and I discovered myself discovering the
place, opening my eyes to the Nile with its beautiful banks, flowing water, waterways and its melodious
sound, the large ships in the Dongola region, the small sailboats and the historical area, all of this
affected my documentary films “Land of Civilizations – Kingdoms on the Nile “and others.
The Nile, with its brilliant charm, is what inspired me to produce the series “Salil Al-Faradis” and won
the first prize in Tunisia recently. All this opened my visual memory, which helped me a lot in enriching
my directing imagination.
Mentioning the prizes. Is mannerism the most important reason for
receiving these prizes, meaning that most of your work depends on
something that is not public or known to the world. Or is it your own
It is true that there are myths in my work, multiple geographical areas, customs and traditions that are very
strange, and that seems clear in many of my works, but I think any director who wants to present
something different has to know from where to start. Because I knew where to start, Sudan expresses a
Mini-Africa, with many strange and amazing customs and traditions, and this is a rich wealthy environment
Non-spread of private information about Sudan, as it is still an unknown spot,
has this helped in your success?
The great literary man, Al-Tayeb Saleh, has an amazing saying: “If you want to reach the global, you have
to go deeper into the locality.” For that I went deep in the details of Sudanese culture, and I have a belief
that Sudan is a Mini-Africa, so I went to a discovery that seemed to people that I discovered our new
country and societies, new habits and traditions.
If, at the beginning of your career, you had the chance to work abroad in an
atmosphere that does not resemble those strange Sudanese legends and
narrations, do you think Saif Al-Din Hassan, the director and producer will
I do not think that myths, miraculous and mannerism are enough to qualify and advance you to the world no
matter how you put your hand on what is different and myth to people, but how can you present this content
in an artistic and creative way in the sense of what creative and directing tools that you have, and not
having these tools is a sure failure.
Africa is a culturally and technically undiscovered continent. What do you
think of this saying?
Of course, I agree with you, and even the discovered part of it is discovered by European eyes, and let me
call it the “strange eye” that looks to Africa like Muhammad Ali Pasha as the source of resources and the
homeland of slaves, and this is a very unfair vision for the continent of Africa, and I think that the Africans
will shortly show their continent to the world and to look at it face as they should.
Africa is a great continent, there are some attempts, even though it is Diffident, but if directors and
producers come to it without backgrounds, they will find a continent that is top in creativity and artistic
richness, and that its human being can rise from the rubble and rise from among colonialism, a person who
is able to lead and govern himself and cross to the other shore.
Since you are a specialist in the documentary, do you think that these
documentaries can be a kind of economic, social and tourist support
regeneration in the region on which the story of these films was based?
Let’s be more honest and apparent. I think the documentary films philosophy does not yet exist, as shy
attempts in the Arab and African region. For example, in developed countries in America and Europe, the
documentary is a cinematic film that people take themselves to see in cinemas, this is a culture that exists
in the West, “BBC” has produced hundreds of documentaries for more than a hundred years, as well as
“National Geographic” and other media institutions. As for Africa, the philosophy of documentary production
was recently introduced, and this helped in the appearance and emergence of specialized and other news
documentary channels carrying with it documentary on its programmatic map. This helped and contributed
greatly, as people began to get familiar with the documentary bit by bit, and then the directors and
producers started invention in this field, and there are also documentaries produced by Europeans that are
Can the documentary film, in general, affect negatively or positively the
economic and social aspects?
Of course and my opinion this is the documentary message, and if we want to categorize it, it is news in the
first place. On the contrary, it is not for fun or entertainment, but it carries very high contents and it can
express Africa’s huge treasures, or human culture, so I think that The documentary is concerned with the
rise of nations in general, our African nation in particular.
Is there a dream or a plan that “Land of brown” will go beyond Sudan and
step towards Africa the true source of the land of brown?
The idea at its origin was not just for Sudan. When I designed this project and started this documentary
series, it was in my mind for Africa, I think Africa is the land of Brown and I still believe in this conviction,
and the whole world places us in this box and we accept and cherish this very much, but this huge project
needs Funding with the magnitude of the idea and you know the problems of production financing, so I
started in Sudan and produced more than a hundred films in this series, and I will drive forward if I was
provided with the resources and logistical support. I can go to Africa, I have great ideas for this series, till it
reaches and shows the world about Africa.
The idea of producing the land of Brown, was it a plan or a dream of a
moment that came to you and disturbed your dreams?
The Land of brown is the project of a lifetime for me and it is the dream that I dreamed of for many years
since twenty years I produced and directed documentaries but I concluded the fact that “the documentary
film with limited time and shape will have a limited impact”, so I thought of a series that remains immortal in
people so I designed this Documentary series of a hundred films as I said earlier.
And I started this mass production with individual resources and I think in a precise way to enter the
“Guinness Encyclopedia” considering that I produced and directed a hundred films in different production
conditions individually because I do not own a production institution and I do not have resources, and in a
country that has very complicated production conditions. This initiation was initiated until people slowly
began to become convinced that this initiation was different and significant, and achieved supreme
presence and success in Social Media and YouTube, and people from outside Sudan came to see the land
Your goal was to achieve a personal dream, but surely there are other
implicit goals that helped this success. What are these goals?
Of course, and I wanted to say through this series that the producer and director in Africa, specifically in
Sudan, has the ability and the tools to succeed, and has a spirit of initiative and adventure, and therefore if
we have few capabilities and aids we can accomplish what others are proud of. I have produced nearly two
hundred Film and documentary, one hundred films, “The Land of Brown “, and a hundred other films and I participated in many festivals and won fifteen different international awards, including eight golden, four
silver, three bronze awards, and numerous certificates of appreciation, and was honored at different levels
in this documentary experience, which I am proud of as a Sudanese.
Finally, what do you see yourself in the near future? I do not mean Saif Al-
Din Hassan in his person, but rather the producer in the first place and the
director in the second place?
I have another dream which is a project called “Magic of the Nile” from the headwaters of the Nile in Lake
Victoria and Tana in Uganda and Ethiopia to the mouth in Egypt and the White Sea, and this series talks
about economic conditions and people’s lives around the Nile and their
cultures, about Nilotic people their
customs, traditions, poetry and songs, and it will even speak about the depths of the Nile that no one has
discovered yet. I think it is a chain that will take people on a project similar to the Al Samar Project.
In conclusion: – I am delighted to present with titles of thanks and reverence to the Director Mister/ Saif
El-Din Hassan, who allowed us to have a dialogue and dedicate to us from his precious time this wonderful
time space in which we wandered with him throughout his beautiful imagination that produced
masterpieces from important documentaries.