Toronto Film Festival Calls for Release of Jailed Sudan Director Hajooj Kuka

Director Hajooj Kuka
Eamonn M. McCormack/Getty Images

Director Hajooj Kuka.

"We need to make some noise about this," TIFF co-head Cameron Bailey said on his Twitter account.

Sudan documentary maker Hajooj Kuka, a new member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and one of five artists recently jailed in Khartoum, has received a call for an immediate release by the Toronto Film Festival.

"Hajooj Kuka is an exceptional filmmaker. His last two films, Beats of the Antonov and Akasha, played at our Festival. He was recently invited to join @TheAcademy. Now he’s been jailed in Sudan. We need to make some noise about this," Cameron Bailey, artistic director and co-head of the Toronto Film Festival, said on his Twitter account.

Kuka's documentary Beats of the Antonov, about the people of the Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains in Sudan and their battle with that country's military in that war-torn region, won the 2014 best documentary audience award at the Toronto festival. His feature documentary Akasha screened at TIFF in 2018.

Bailey retweeted a message from Akasha producer Steve Markowitz after he called for an international response to Kuka's jailing on Thursday. On Aug. 13, Kuka via his own Twitter account first raised an urgent alert after he and fellow artists were arrested by religious militants after attending a theater workshop.

"I am an academy member. We got attacked during a theater workshop in #khartoum by islamists instigators. The police stood by the attackers and arrested us. Now we are awaiting trial. Is there any support for #artists or do we need to get killed first?," Kuka said.

The Sudan filmmaker is the founder of Refugee Club and he has worked at the Middle East Broadcast Network in Virginia and at Shilo Incorporation in New York City as a video editor and postproduction editor.