Abouna

Director:
Year: 2002
Country: Chad
Running time: 81 mins
France/Chad

Screenplay: Mahamat-Saleh Haroun
Photography: Abraham Hailie Biru
Editor: Sarah Taouss Matton
Music: Diego Moustapha Ngarade
With: Ahidjo Mahamat Moussa, Hamza Moctar Aguid
In Chad Arabic, with English subtitles

Festivals: Cannes (Directors’ Fortnight), Edinburgh, Toronto 2002
Life in a small community in the African nation of Chad is vividly evoked in the year’s most widely acclaimed African film. The story of two brothers, aged 15 and eight, whose lives are changed when their father leaves without saying a word, Haroun’s film is both touching and almost perversely optimistic. When their father fails to appear for their amateur soccer match, the two boys are devastated. Alarmed that they are out of control, their mother sends them to a Koranic school where the strict mullahs make daunting substitutes for their absent father. Beautiful and quietly observant, the film celebrates their insouciant pleasure in a less than kind world.

“The effortless natural performances, truly vibrant palette of colours and perfectly attuned, gently melancholic music from Malian guitar hero Ali Farka Touré combine with such self-evident rightness that you’ll be trembling with pleasure. Stirringly self-possessed, touching but never manipulative, this heartfelt film has an expressive unforced songfulness. A future classic, no doubt about it.” — Trevor Johnston, Time Out