Screened as part of NZIFF 2003

Abouna 2002

Directed by Mahamat-Saleh Haroun

Chad / France In Chad Arabic with English subtitles
81 minutes 35mm

Director, Screenplay


Abraham Hailie Biru


Sarah Taouss Matton


Diego Moustapha Ngarade


Ahidjo Mahamat Moussa
Hamza Moctar Aguid


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