Our Father
3 out of 5 starsAbouna
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
abouna Writer-director Haroun gives us a glimpse of central Africa's soul with this simple yet powerful tale. One morning Tahir (Moussa), age 15, and Amine (Aguid), 8, wake up to find their father gone. They have no idea where he might be, and neither does their mother (Haroun), so they start looking. Eventually they discover that he didn't work where he said he did; he was an actor whose latest film is showing at their local cinema. But when they steal a film reel, they get in serious trouble and their mother sends them away to a remote Muslim school to get straightened out. Obviously they just want to get out of there so they can keep searching, but escape proves more difficult than they thought.

In addition to excellent performances from the two young lead actors, the film has am accomplished visual style. It's beautifully shot with a superior sense of style and colour, catching the feel of the settings nicely without either falling into cliche or locking the action too specifically in a time or place. This means that even those of us who have never experienced such a life can identify with Tafir and Amine's situation. In this sense, the film feels like a classic film (The Bicycle Thief comes to mind). But it's also very specifically African; the plot can be read allegorically as the story of Chad itself, a people adrift and badly in need of returning to their true roots (which predate both colonial rule and Islam). It isn't necessary to look this deeply--although the basic plot feels thin, these elements lend the film a weight that makes it something worth looking out for.

themes, violence 17.Oct.02

dir-scr Mahamet-Saleh Haroun
with Ahidjo Mahamat Moussa, Hamza Moctar Aguid, Zara Haroun, Mounira Khalil, Koulsy Lamko, Garba Issa
release UK 22.Nov.02; US 20.Feb.04
02/Chad 1h21

Brothers in arms. Tafir and Amine search high and low for their father...

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2002 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall