Sifinja - The Iron Bride

Valerie Hänsch
Germany, Sudan 2009 | 70 Min. | miniDV, OmU
Q&A with: Valerie Hänsch

Great tech­ni­cal abil­i­ty, craftsman’s pride, and cre­ative energy are the dri­ving forces behind the Sudanese mechan­ics respon­si­ble for cus­tomiz­ing Bed­ford Trucks orig­i­nal­ly from Eng­land to meet the local needs in Sudan. For these mechan­ics, black­smiths, and car­pen­ters, how­ev­er, ‘cus­tomiz­ing’ means com­plete­ly dis­as­sem­bling the truck involved before build­ing it anew in a wholly unortho­dox manner. The trucks, pro­duced by British man­u­fac­tur­ers and intend­ed for roads through­out the Eng­lish coun­try­side, are thus trans­formed into desert­proof vehi­cles. These most dif­fer­ent of models orig­i­nat­ed in the 1960s and, over the course of the fol­low­ing decades, led to the devel­op­ment of a single, bind­ing method of con­struc­tion used in work­shops all over the coun­try. Shaped by an intense love of detail, this film tracks just how such a process of adop­tion occurs: the nec­es­sary steps, the work mate­ri­als and tools, the social con­di­tions as well as the tra­di­tion within which this spe­cial­ized hand­i­craft evolved. Anyone who does­n’t know Sudan will be sur­prised to see the power of inno­va­tion and the cre­ativ­i­ty of the mechan­ics, black­smiths, and car­pen­ters on full dis­play.