Scene of The Burdened (Credit: Amr Jamal)

The Burdened: The First South Yemeni Film Premieres in Berlin


Sun, 19-02-2023 06:27 PM, Aden

Ali Mahmood (South24)

"The Burdened" a new award-winning feature film produced in Aden South Yemen selected to play in the premiere at the Berlin Film Festival on Monday" the film director Amr Gamal told "South24 Center".

"The film takes place in the port city of Aden in South Yemen, it is based on a realistic story happened with a family from Aden city in 2019. It depicts the suffering experienced by the family, just like many families in Yemen who are usually forced to take difficult options to face the challenges resulting from the dire economic situation in the war-ravaged country," Mr. Gamal said. 

"The movie tells the story of Isra’a and Ahmed, a married couple and parents for three children. They stopped working since war in the poor country erupted in 2015. Ahmed found himself jobless which prompted him to work as a taxi driver to make a living for his family. When Ahmed puts all his efforts to offer normal life and education to his three young children, Isra’a finds out that she is pregnant again, this news aggravated their situation and prompted the family to make difficult decisions. The couple sadly decide to abort the newborn so that their economic condition won't worsen more, but they find that implementing such desperate option is not easy" Director Amr Jamal tells the story of his award-winning film.

Scene of "The Burdened" (Credit: Amr Jamal)

According to Mr. Gamal, "The Burdened” was fully filmed in Aden city. Filming took 70 days between August and November 2021, the actors and actresses participated in the feature film, were a mixture of professional stars and beginner performers who were selected after extensive training continued for three months. 

Amr Gamal previously directed “10 Days Before The Wedding” and the series “Last Chance.” “The Burdened” is produced by Mohsen Alkhalifi and Amr Gamal at Adenium Productions, South Yemen based company.

The hardworking insightful Adeni director and writer Amr Gamal founded Khaleej Aden Theatre Troupe, in 2005, the troupe returned to the stage to perform new playwrights following the liberation of Aden from the Houthi invasion. Khaleej Aden hit the theatre back in Aden in October 2019 by performing a satirical look at life playwright dubbed as Ala Hurkruk – a local slang term that means “on the edge”.

In January 2023, Khaleej Aden Troupe performed Hamlet of the great British poet and writer William Shakespeare. The play offered people in Aden a respite from the many hardships and the daily suffering they live in due to the dire economy.

The power struggle, revenge, murder, and the moral conflict told within the historic playwright of Hamlet which was written over 400 years was amazingly performed by Adeni actors and actresses. The play took the limelight and caused a buzz in the city, as well as in the international media.

Actor and TV director Ahmed Al Yafiee who played the role of prince Hamlet in the playwright said that he is extremely delighted that the film " The Burdened" produced by his colleagues was selected to the premiere of Berlin International Film Festival.

"Selecting The Burdened in such international festival means a lot for us, it means that we are creative, and we can do it whatever the challenge is," Mr. Al Yafiee told "South24 Center".

Scene of "The Burdened" (Credit: Amr Jamal)

"Cinema is a sign of life, it is not less important than the school, the mosque, the university, the government must help restore the infrastructure of cinema and the theatres in Aden," Mr. Al Yafiee said. 


Aden once sat at the world's crossroads because it was a stopover for passenger traffic. The cosmopolitan still hosts a bizarre of cultural-mash-up reflecting a bigger picture for a city which was historically recognized as a trading hub and a welcoming city for centuries.

Theatre came to Aden by chance and was introduced by an Indian troupe in the early 20th century. Jamlat Shah, a group of musicians, singers, and actors, were forced to stop in Aden in 1904 while heading to Britain by ship. While the troupe’s vessel underwent maintenance in the city, performers were free to entertain the dazzled Adenis. Regarding movies, Aden witnessed a first movie show in 1910 when the British authority ruled the city from 1839-1967 screened silent films in black and white for personnel of the British army stationed in Crater city, later the British authorities expanded the scope of the films to its diplomatic and civil service employees.

First cinema was set up in Aden in 1910 by a man called Mohammed Hamood, who established the first cinema under the name of Hurricane located in Al-Mydan avenue in the historic city of Crater.

There were 40 movie theatre operating in Aden, today the young generation of cinema producers in Aden struggle to perform in wedding and conferences halls. With a series of conflicts in the 28 years since unification nothing has damaged cinema more than the Houthi rebels who have been at war with the government since 2015.

Despite war, cinema thrives back in Aden

Despite the many hardships Aden has been facing since the Houthi war erupted in 2015, hustle and bustle of cinema returned to the cosmopolitan city. 

In 2018, Aden celebrated the cinema return through the premiere of "10 Days Before The Wedding" directed by Amr Gamal. The movie is believed to be the first feature ever filmed, directed, produced, and publicly screened since the flawed unification between the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen PDRY ruling the South and the Yemen Arab Republic which was ruling North Yemen in 1990.

Ali Mahmood

Aden-based freelance journalist who covers the war in Yemen via the National and other foreign media outlets

South YemenYemenMovieTheatreBerlin Film FestivalCinema