9 April 2008
DARATT / Dry Season (Dir. Mahamat Saleh Haroun, 2006, Chad)
The power of world cinema has always come from it's unique ability to provide us with insights into different cultures, nations and people which have traditionally been alien and distant to us. Daratt is the first film I have seen from the nation of Chad and has been directed by one of the most talented of the contemporary wave of African film makers; Mahamat Saleh Haroun. I have not seen much of African cinema before and personally I have always held reservations about much of African cinema, mainly because it has been difficult to access but the advent of DVD has revolutionised the avaliability of previously hard to find films. The episodic, slow pace of the narrative of Daratt is set to the backdrop of a country which is coming out a difficult and brutal civil war, and focuses on the character of Atim, a symbol of the nation's youth who is sent by his blind grandfather to find and kill Nassara, the man supposedly responsible for his father's death. This is a film which is defined by it's beautifully realised and powerfully humanist ending that suggests unusually how forgiveness can provide some kind of temporary closure for the wounds of a political conflict which is still fresh in the memories of the youth. The dubious and uneasy relationship that Atim develops with the bullish and overtly partriachal figure of Nassara reveals the mistreatment of women within a domain that seems to be ruled by religious sentiments. Nassara is a complex figure who recognises the errors of his ways but who is also avoiding the confrontations he will have to face one day from the relatives of his victims like Atim. Daratt reminded me very much of The Dardenne's film, The Son, which was released a few years ago and though both films originate from separate corners of the globe, they are inexplicably united by the message of peace, compromise and the power of forgiveness.
Labels: African Cinema