Training and Film Work
During the Second World War, Gadalla Gubara received training as a cameraman at the British Colonial Film Unit, an institution which existed in almost all of the British colonies. He shot propaganda films, newsreels, as well as the educational documentaries widespread in Africa at the time that were intended to play a role in the modernization of the country.
Following Sudan’s independence in 1956, he headed the Sudanese Film Unit, a sort of state film authority whose task was to create television and cinema for the nation. Gubara regarded this as an important part of the country’s process of self-discovery and saw the medium of film as one way of reaching the largely illiterate population.
The following years were marked by an atmosphere of political and cultural awakening. During this period, Gubara documented everything with his camera: government meetings with General Gamel Abdel Nasser and Haile Selassi, the nightlife of Khartoum, the construction of railway lines, factories and dams. His great goal was to shoot features however. At the end of the 1950s, he received a grant to go to California and study directing at the University of California in Los Angeles. Afterwards, he worked as an assistant at the Masr film studio in Cairo.
In 1969, he founded the Pan-African film festival FESPACO (Festival panafricain du cinéma et de la télévision) in Ouagadougou together with Souleymane Cissé, Med Hondo, and Ousmane Sembène. The foundation of the Federation of African Filmmakers FEPACI (Fédération panafricaine de cinéastes) followed one year later. As the only Sudanese filmmaker within the federation, he remained an outsider, a position equally caused by his criticism of the financial support received by FEPACI from France, which he regarded as colonialist.