Making a Film Version of Tayeb Salih’s ‘A Handful of Dates’

Hashim Hassan and a binational group of Sudanese and U.S.-based film professionals are working to make a film adaptation of Tayeb Salih’s short story “A Handful of Dates”:

19030756727fd398c14b5f151021b8ac_largeCurrently, Hassan and the rest of the team are raising $20,000 through a Kickstarter campaign as partial funding for the film adaptation. Salih, who died in 2009 at the age of 80, was both acclaimed and well-loved in Arabic and in English, and is often hailed as Sudan’s premier post-nahda novelist.

Although he’s best-known for his Season of Migration to the North, A Handful of Dates” is one of Salih’s better-known stories. It was published in Hiwar in 1957 and included in The Wedding of Zein and Other Stories, which was translated by Denys Johnson-Davies.

According to an interview on Ola Diab’s blog, Hassan feels that Salih’s work will translate well to film because, “I was being told a story and a poem at the same time. That’s why I knew Tayeb Salih would translate well on the screen. Because he told stories with a keen sense of visual lyricism and metaphor.”

Why “A Handful of Dates”? Hassan said:

It’s a simple and self-contained coming of age story, that, on the one hand, depicts a specific time and place in Northern Sudan, and on the other, offers its audience a universal loss of innocence tale. Also, “A Handful of Dates” is the first installment of Salih’sWad Hamid Cycle, which also includes Season of MigrationThe Wedding of Zein, and Bandarshah, and introduces characters that would play important roles in those later works. That’s why it made sense to start with “A Handful of Dates.”

Currently, the project is only up to $3,675 with 14 days to go, but Hassan said he was also looking into other funding sources.


The project’s kickstarter page

Its Facebook page and website

The story: “A Handful of Dates”