Abouna

  • 2002
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Drama

Chadian director Mahamet Saleh Haroun's follow-up to his acclaimed 1999 feature BYE BYE AFRICA is a gracefully told and ultimately heartbreaking tale of two brothers who are first abandoned by their father, then exiled from their home by a mother too overwhelmed to raise them. The man we see stealing away across the sands as the movie opens is leaving behind...read more

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Reviewed by Ken Fox
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Chadian director Mahamet Saleh Haroun's follow-up to his acclaimed 1999 feature BYE BYE AFRICA is a gracefully told and ultimately heartbreaking tale of two brothers who are first abandoned by their father, then exiled from their home by a mother too overwhelmed to raise them. The man we see stealing away across the sands as the movie opens is leaving behind a wife, Achta (Zara Horoun), and two young sons, 15-year-old Tahir (Ahidjo Mahamet Moussa) and his asthmatic baby brother, Amine (Hamza Moctar Aguid). The boys sense something is wrong when their father fails to show up to referee their soccer game; mom knows exactly what's happened, and matter-of-factly tells them that their "much-loved father" has left them. Refusing the believe that he's gone for good, the boys trek across their village's outlying trash-strewn fields and station themselves at the bridge that crosses the border between Chad and Cameroon, but there's no sign of him. When they return home, they're berated by their worried mother: "No one thinks about me." Achta expects them to one day abandon her just like their father did, but even when the brothers learn that their father had been lying for over two years about having a job, they refuse to accept his absence, and even think they spot him on-screen when they go to the movies. Achta, however, just can't cope, and reaches her breaking point when Tahir and Amine are arrested for stealing the reel of film from the cinema's projection booth. "It's too much for me," she wails, and sends them away to a Koranic school where they'll be raised by a strict headmaster (Garba Issa) who beats his students severely for any infraction. The brothers immediately plan their escape, but Tahir has a change of heart when he falls in love with a beautiful deaf-mute girl (Mounira Khalil). Amine, however, hasn't given up hope of finding his father, and is just waiting for the right moment to slip away. As the film builds to its wrenching climax, the film's sobering message becomes clear: parental love and responsibility don't necessarily go hand and hand. Even considering how hard it must be to take a bad picture with the striking Chadian landscape as a backdrop, this film is an exceptionally beautiful work. Haroun and cinematographer Abraham Haile Biru carefully frame their characters with a painterly elegance that is at times truly startling. (In Chad Arabic, with English subtitles.)

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  • Released: 2002
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: Chadian director Mahamet Saleh Haroun's follow-up to his acclaimed 1999 feature BYE BYE AFRICA is a gracefully told and ultimately heartbreaking tale of two brothers who are first abandoned by their father, then exiled from their home by a mother too overw… (more)

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