Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Mahamat-Saleh Haroun: To Be Displaced (A Screaming Man)

Youssouf Djaoro, A Screaming Man, Film Movement, 2011.

In the tradition of the great politicized film artists of the 1960s, Chadian filmmaker Mahamat-Saleh Haroun chronicles the social and spiritual downfall of a fringe dweller, dissecting his country's colonial past and tumultuous present in the brave new film, A Screaming Man.

Taking pages from Glauber Rocha's demystifying revolutions, Tomas Gutierrez Alea's darkly comedic everymen and Yilmaz Guney's socio-political exposes, Haroun constructs a fascinating tower of glass which he finally shatters and invites us, as pro-active audience, to pick up the pieces of. Youssouf Djaoro turns in a magnetic performance as Adam, a former athletic star turned swimming pool attendant for one of the biggest hotels in Chad. His pride at his work infects everybody around him, his co-workers, admiring women and his worshipful son included. When he loses his job, his displacement and subsequent look around him, at his own life and country, proffers cataclysmic results.

Haroun weaves his picture with the lightest touch, avoiding the overdone tone of another African film earlier this year, Life, Above All. We become completely immersed in Haroun's natural born gift as a storyteller and in Djaoro's magnificently sensitive portrayal of a diluted individual who believably becomes conscious of the stratification within his country. The threads of melodrama all intertwine over this solitary figure, purely fabricated and made flesh by the steady hand of a greatly gifted director.

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