"Why do you choose to lie whenever you can tell the truth?"
Goodbye Julia is the International Feature submission for Sudan. Set in 2005, riots begin to happen in the streets of Khartoum after the death of the leader of the South. Akram and Mona, a married couple who live in a wealthy part of the capital, are attacked by protesters from the street. Gunfire breaks out, windows shatter and cars are set aflame. Akram is able to scare everyone away but they’re clearly shaken. The tension between Northerners and Southerners are now at an all-time high.
A few days later, after a visit to the doctor, Mona is distracted in her car and runs over a young boy, Daniel, while driving. She panics, causing a hit and run, but Daniel’s father chases her in his motorbike. Unaware of exactly what’s going on but thinking that a “Southerner is attacking my wife,” Akram shoots and kills the man after Mona is able to arrive home. In order to redeem herself and help with the guilt, Mona tracks down Julia, the now widow and Daniel’s mother, and hires her to be her maid. Together the two women begin to bond and become close friends, but will this devastating secret remain hidden?
Mona and Akram are part of the Northern Arabic-speaking elite, while Julia is part of the Southern Black community, a district which struggles to get by day by day. They co-exist in Khartoum, but the city doesn’t see the Northerner and the Southerner equally. The country is haunted by racism. Following decades of conflict between Sudan and South Sudan, the film showcases the years leading up to the referendum, which was won by 99% in favour for separation.
The relationship between the two women is built on Mona’s guilt and, crucially, Julia’s economic desperation. Everyone in Goodbye Julia are victims of each other’s prejudices, and live with lies and secrets, refusing to think of the consequences of their actions. Their innocence has long been gone, but there is a sense of naivety in them as well. Things would just be so much easier if someone would just tell the truth. Instead, more harm is done time and time again.
Eventually, secrets will come out, revelations will be revealed, people will get hurt, and loved ones will have to say goodbye.