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Sudanese director Amjad Abu Alala’s daring feature debut follows a mother and son as they navigate life in the wake of a devastating prophecy.
“You Will Die at Twenty isn’t a story about being afraid to die, it’s a story about being afraid to live.” –Pat Padua, Washington City Paper
When searching for a blessing on the day of her firstborn child’s naming ceremony, Sakina (Islam Mubark) is instead given a curse. A travelling sheik prophecies that her son, Muzamil (played first by Moatasem Rashid then as a teen by Mustafa Shehata), would die at the age of 20. In what is now a coming-of-death tale, a devastated Sakina is sentenced to mourn her son prematurely, while Muzamil becomes increasingly curious about what it means to live beyond his mother’s confines.
Encouraged by local elders, the overprotective Sakina allows Muzamil to study the Quran with the other children his age. The new freedom he finds brings friends, enemies, love, and temptation, though what he truly seeks is a chance at the future.
You Will Die at Twenty is a daring first feature from Sudanese director Amjad Abu Alala that offers new insight into the passage of time, thick with anticipatory loss and wayward longing. When Muzamil’s life and dreams begin to blur — haunted by both fate and faith — he is forced to choose for himself what it means to be alive… even as death rounds the corner.
Content advisory: bullying