No Simple Way Home
As South Sudan hangs in the balance of a tenuous peace agreement, a mother and her two daughters’ return home from exile. The mother’s mission is to safeguard her late husband’s vision for their people, family, and country. Her daughters struggle to come to terms with what it means to call South Sudan home.
In East Africa, Rebecca Nyandeng de Mabior is known as the mother of South Sudan. The country gained independence in 2011 and has been at war for most of its short history. Rebecca’s greatest fear is that her husband, John Garang, along with millions of South Sudanese people died in vain. After years in exile, a fragile peace agreement plants the possibility for her to do something about the precarious situation in the country. Meanwhile, Rebecca’s daughter Akuol is struggling to come to terms with what it means to call herself South Sudanese because she was born and raised in exile. She decides to follow her mother from behind the camera and is forced to come to terms with her own fears. At the heart of the film, No Simple Way Home is an intergenerational conversation that charts their struggle to reconcile family and country. Akuol discovers that her mother’s deepest yearning is for her children and the children of her compatriots to lead meaningful lives at home in South Sudan. But what does it mean to call South Sudan home?
Akuol de Mabior
Akuol de Mabior is South Sudanese, was born in Cuba and grew up in Kenya. She has directed four short films: Tomato Soup screened at the Durban International Film Festival (2018), Reel Sisters of the Diaspora in New York (2018), and the pan-African Film Festival in Los Angeles (2019), Ihlazo screened at the Shnit Worldwide Short Film Festival in Cape Town (2018) and Fall into the Sky screened at the Durban International Film Festival (2019), Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa in Cape Town (2019), at the Encounters South African International Documentary Festival, and Shnit (2019). Believing that the perspectives of African women are undervalued, she aims to create counter-hegemonic stories for the screen that reach African audiences, facilitate our imaginations and encourage us to think differently about ourselves and our futures.
Sam Soko is a film director, producer and editor based in Nairobi who seeks out stories that enable him to engage in socio- political spaces. His work on civic literacy projects in music, non-fiction and fiction has allowed him to connect with artists around the world. He is co-founder of LBx Africa, a Kenyan production company that service-produced the 2018 Oscar- nominated short fiction film Watu Wote. Soko’s first feature documentary project Softie, premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, winning a special jury prize for editing. He is an outspoken defender of freedom of expression and has taken part in global conversations on how to make media matter when the world is on fire. Soko is currently producing features by first-time African directors in Kenya, South Sudan and Zimbabwe, and also co-directing a film following the world’s boldest experiment in universal basic income taking place in Kenya.
Don Edkins is a South African documentary filmmaker and producer based in Cape
Town. He has produced documentary film projects that have been broadcast around
the world, such as Steps for the Future, Why Democracy? and Why Poverty? earning
multiple international awards, including an Oscar for Taxi to the Dark Side, and the
Special Teddy Award at the 63rd Berlinale for Steps for the Future. The Peabody
awarded Why Poverty? Project, with documentary films from 21 countries, was
screened globally by 70 broadcasters. He is Executive Producer of AfriDocs, a free-to-
view VOD platform and broadcast strand across Africa that screens the best African
and international documentary films. He is currently producing a new documentary film
project with African filmmakers across the continent, Generation Africa, around the
theme of migration. He is a mentor for the Berlinale Talents, Durban FilmMart, and
Docs by the Sea in Indonesia, and a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Tiny Mungwe is a documentary film and arts producer. She currently works at STEPS
(Social Transformation and Empowerment Projects) where she produces Generation
Africa, a pan-African anthology of 25 documentary films from 16 countries in Africa, on
the topic of migration. Mungwe’s films include Akekho uGogo, a 48 minute
documentary about urban youth culture, which screened at several festivals including
the Durban International Film Festival, Apollo Film Festival and DOKANEMA Festival.
Her short film script Evelyn was selected for the National Film and Video Foundation
(NFVF) Women Filmmaker Project and she directed another short film in the program,
Daddy’s Boy. She has written for some of the highest rating South African television
dramas such as Muvhango and Matatiele, and was one of the directors on the series
Uzalo. For several years she worked as a festival organizer and programmer for four
international festivals, namely Time of the Writer, the Durban International Film
Festival, Jomba! Contemporary Dance Festival and Poetry Africa. During that time she also worked on the program for Durban FilmMart (the co-production market of the festival) and Talents Durban (a career development program for emerging African filmmakers in partnership with Berlinale Talents). She continues to work as a program curation associate for the Durban FilmMart. She also programmed and curated the city of Durban’s inaugural book and art fair, ARTiculate Africa.