Film poster for "I Am Bisha" with man holding puppet head in black and white.
Film poster for "I Am Bisha" with man holding puppet head in black and white.
One man's quest to pull the strings of Sudanese dictator Omar al-Bashir


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RECOMMENDED - Educational Media Reviews Online | Jury Award for Best Short - Full Frame | Rory Peck Award for New Features

African Studies • Peace & Conflict Studies • Media Studies • Visual Culture

Date of Completion: 2018 | Run Time: 14 minutes​​ | Language: Arabic with English subtitles | Captions: Yes | Includes: Transcript | Director & Producer: Roopa Gogineni

Former president Omar al-Bashir of Sudan dropped over four thousand bombs on villages across the Nuba Mountains. Ganja, the 26 year old pacifist son of a rebel commander, witnessed a bomb drop meters from his home. He has never found a way to fight back - until now. Ganja became President Bashir. Or to be precise, he became the man who controls Bashir’s head. Ganja and his friends in the Nuba Mountains acquired a puppet of the dictator and filmed a satirical web series called “Bisha TV.” The show follows the president’s schemes to raise money for a campaign of violent suppression across Sudan. Over one million people have watched “Bisha TV,” most of them inside Sudan. This short film (14’) weaves together the story of Ganja’s life in the Nuba Mountains, his creative process working under extraordinary conditions, and darkly hilarious scenes from “Bisha TV.” Through Ganja’s work - and the comic escapades of two Sudanese strongmen - we see an unlikely flowering of political humor and appreciate the true power of grassroots media.

Educational Media Reviews Online (EMRO) | Russell A. Hall, Reference and Instruction Librarian, Penn State Erie
RECOMMENDED "I am Bisha is suitable for courses on African politics or area studies. It also could be useful for courses focused on dictatorships, rebellions, or propaganda."

The Atlantic | Prashant Rao, Global Editor
"I can’t get this documentary off my mind."

2018 Full Frame Jury Award for Best Short
2018 Rory Peck Award for News Features
2018 One World Media Short Film Award

Full Frame Film Festival 2018
Hot Docs International Film Festival 2018
Sheffield Doc/Fest 2018
Original Thinkers 2018
Hamptons International Film Festival 2018
IFC Center Screening 2018
SF Doc Stories Screening 2018
IDFA Docs for Sale 2017
IDA Screening Series at LACMA 2018
Foreign Correspondents Association of East Africa 2018
ReFrame Film Festival 2018
JAYU Human Rights Film Festival 2018
Waging Peace, Sheffield 2018
Footcandle Film Festival 2018
41 North Film Festival 2018
FIPADOC Retrospective Days at Biarritz Library 2019
MUICA Film Festival (Colombia) 2019
International Documentary Film Festival of Bogotá 2019
The Media Majlis at Northwestern University 2019
Gracias Africa (Colombia) 2020
The Never Again Coalition, Rising Up: Sudan 2020
Wallay Festival (Spain) 2020

Roopa Gogineni is a director, photographer, and journalist whose work over the past decade has focused on historical memory and life amidst conflict in East Africa. She holds a BA in African Studies from the University of Pennsylvania and an MSc in African Studies from the University of Oxford, where she researched the construction of media narratives around Somalia. She directed reality television in Mogadishu, an experience chronicled in The Other Real World on NPR’s Invisibilia podcast. Her work has examined the narrative of genocide in Rwanda, investigated the origins of Somali piracy, and documented the historic Mau Mau case against the UK government for colonial-era abuses in Kenya. Her short film I AM BISHA earned the Oscar-qualifying Full Frame Jury Award for Best Short, a One World Media Award, and a Rory Peck Award. In 2018, she was selected as an inaugural FRONTLINE/Firelight Investigative Journalism Fellow and is a 2020 Women Photograph Grant recipient. Roopa has trained researchers from Human Rights Watch in video documentation and advises a cohort of doctoral students using visual methodology in their study of pastoralism and uncertainty at The Institute of Development Studies. Her photographs and films have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian, Al Jazeera and BBC. Currently, she is finishing a film about a group of boys who create a make-believe television station amidst the revolution in Sudan. Roopa speaks French and Telugu and gets by in Swahili, Spanish and Arabic.