Mahamat-Saleh Haroun


(Copyright © 2011 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions )

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Mahamat-Saleh Haroun (Chad, 1961)

Bye Bye Africa (1999)

An exiled African filmmaker (a fictionalized version of the director himself) and his French wife are woken up by a phone-call. His mother has died and he will have to return to his country Chad, after a long absence. He takes with him a script he wants to film.
Arriving in Chad he tries to explain to his family his career as a filmmaker but they don’t understand it. He also finds out that the film he wants shoot in the country will be very difficult to make, because most movie theatres are closed and funding for production and distribution is almost impossible to find. While he realizes that the film industry is crumbling in Africa and sees the ignorance people show towards cinema one question crosses his mind “Does cinema have a future in here?”.
(Stub prepared by Guilherme Caeiro)

Abouna/Our Father (2002)

The story of two brothers searching for their missing father, it works as a metaphor for the situation of the country which after years of colonialism now as to rule itself.
The two brothers are Amine , who is about eight years old, and Tahir who is fifteen. They wake up one morning to find out that their father has left the family. Later, while watching a movie they think they see their father speaking to them so they steal the film to examine the frames.
Their mother find out they stole the film and punish them by sending them to Koranic school.
Unhappy about the situation they decide to escape and try to find their father.
(Stub prepared by Guilherme Caeiro)

Daratt / Dry Season (2006) is a Shakespeare-iean drama of revenge and loneliness. The protagonist has to learn that revenge and justice are not so easy to administer, and the culprit has to learn that life cannot be rebuilt in one day.

The civil war had ended and the government decides to grant amnesty to all war criminals. Riots erupt in the streets of a village that where atrocities were committed. An old blind man calls him teenager grandson Atim and hands him the gun that belonged to his father. The kid's mission is to kill Nassara, the man who killed his father before he was born. The old man tells the kid that he will wait for him in the desert. Atim travels to the capital, and the journey is a reminder of the abuses inflicted by the military to people like him: an officer traveling in the same shared taxi threatens him with a gun, and two soldiers beat him for urinating on a wall. In the city he tracks down Nassara, who owns a bakery and can only talk with the help of a device. He starts following him and spying on him. Every morning Nassara gives charity to starving children. Atim refuses charity. Nassara assumes that he wants work and gives him a job at the bakery, but Atim's hostile behavior is puzzling to him. Meanwhile, Atim has been befriended by Moussa, a thief who steals light bulbs from public places to resell them at the market, but he finds the scam pointless. The old man, instead, treats him like a son, teaching him how to become a real baker. One day the old man loses his temper because Atim picks up the cell phone during work and then apologizes confessing that he has done much harm in his life for being so impulsive. Atim keeps carrying his father's gun, ready to shoot Nassara any time, but never finding the strength to do it. Atim chats with Nassara's very young wife Aicha, who is pregnant, and learns that Nassara cannot talk because someone tried to slip his throat during the civil war. Aicha and Atim, almost the same age, make fun of Nassara, but he overhears them and later Atim can hear Nassara beat his wife. Life continues like this: Atim is getting better and better at baking, and cannot find the strength to kill the man who killed his father. Nassara is getting old and doesn't have children. One day he cuts his finger while making bread. Another day he collapses with strong back pain. Furthermore, there is now competition: a new bakery opened nearby and they have a car that takes the bread to the customers. Nassara attacks the driver and gets in trouble with the police. It is obvious that he wants to find a son for his old age, and Atim looks like he was sent by god. The boy now has to bake the break all by himsel and feels proud of his achievement; at the same time, he resents being treated like a son. One night, drinking alone in a nightclub, he recognizes the officer who threatened him in the share taxi, follows him outside and beats him unconscious. When he gets back to the bakery (which is now his home), he finds Aicha in tears: she has lost her baby. Nassara gets even more determined about adopting Atim, but this causes Atim to panic. Atim decides to go back home and Nassara simply says that he will follow him because he wants to ask his father persmission to adopt him. Nassara feels that his life has been a failure, that nobody loves him. His only hope is Atim. They drive through the desert to the place where grandfather is waiting. When they get there, Nassara understands that Atim, the very boy he wanted to adopt, has been sent by his grandfather to kill the killer of his father, Nassara himself. However, the grandfather is blind and Atim only pretends to execute Nassara. Then Atim takes his grandfather away, leaving Nassara alone in the desert.

Un Homme Qui Crie/ The Screaming Man (2010) is a Shakespeare-ian drama set in the Sahara desert. That desert is no longer what it used to be: the film indirectly reflects on the social, political and economic change that has come (the new Chinese owners of the hotel, the collapse of religious faith, the instability of the African countries) The tragedy of a quiet man, who was "modernized" by competing in the Olympics, is that now he has to face an ancient dilemma of loyalty towards his family in an age in which people are asked to be more loyal to their country and even to their employer. At one point he says to his wife: "It's not me, it's the world that has changed". To the end this is a very quiet tragedy: there is no spectacular grief, and no overly pathetic touching moments.

Adam has grey hair: he used to ba a swimming champion. Now he and his son Abdel work at a tourist resort (whose clientele is mostly white), teaching tourists how to swim. It is a good job but they are worried that the hotel has just been acquired by a new company. At home Adam enjoys the company of his loving wife Mariam. They eat together while the tv news is alerting the nation to the threat of some rebels and hailing the efforts of the army to restore peace. Gruesome images of dead soldiers are shown on tv. The workers' fears come true: the new Chinese manager fires David, Adam's grey-haired Congolese friend, the chef. When it's Adam's turn, he tells her that the pool is his whole life. Then his son is also called: he comes out upset but refuses to tell his father what happened. To make matters worse, Adam has not paid his contribution to the war against the rebels. His old friend Ahmat, who is the chief of the district, reproaches him. The following day his old friend Etienne, a security guard, spits when Adam rides his motorcycle through the gate to come to work. Adam is puzzled but mintes later he learnes the reason. The hotel management informs him that they don't need him anymore at the pool: his own son is now in charge. Adam is given the job of the security guard. It is a humiliating job of having to lift the barrier whenever a car needs access or needs to leave. Father and son have no choice but to accept. They both need the jobs. Meanwhile, the chief hints at Adam that, if he has no money to contribute to the fight, he should contribute his son: that's what the chief himself did. Adam visits his Congolese friend at the hospital: after being fire, he had a heart attack. Later he agrees to the chief's suggestion: two soldiers come to draft Abdel with no warning in front of his powerless mother. Adam watches from the witness. Not only did Adam satisfy the chief but he also gets back his job at the pool. But the sense of guilt slowly becomes unbearable: he betrayed his only son. To make matters worse, Abdel's girlfriend shows up: she's the secret that Adam sensed Abdel was hiding from him. She is a singer and she's pregnant of Abdel. Abdel's mother tells her that she can come and live with them. Adam runs to the chief and offers to take Adbel's place in the army. The chief sympathyzes because he had similar feelings about his own son being drafted, but there is nothing they can do: they are too old for the army. Adam spends the night crying. He has lost faith in his god and cannot just pray for his son.
A wounded soldier coming from the front brings a taped message by Abdel for his girlfriend. Abdel describes in whispers the horrow of war, his fear of dying, the temptation to run away and his pessimism about the future of their child. The situation gets worse: the government is losing to the rebels and it has to declare a curfew. Nobody goes to work at the hotel except Adam. There are no tourists either. The manager thanks him but Adam is now in panic mode. In the evening he tries to ride on bis motorcycle past the police block, but he is stopped and sent back. Chaos is spreading. The following day thousands of people are fleeing the town. Adam confesses to his son's girlfriend that he is the one who turned his son to the army. Adam can't resist anymore. He jumps on his motorbike again and this time gets out of town, on a dusty highway, heading straight towards the front. The only traffic is in the opposite direction. The road gets worse and worse. Eventually he reaches the military camp and finds Adbel in a hospital tent, severely wounded. At night the father literally kidnaps the son. Then they start the long journey home on the sputtering motorbike. When they stop to take a break, father and son confront each other: the son knows who sent him to war. Now all he wants is to swim in the river. The journey resumes. At the river Adam tries to wake up his son, but he is dead. Adam pulls the lifeless body to the edge of the river and then lets it float on the water.
(Translation by/ Tradotto da xxx)

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(Copyright © 2003 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions )