Port Djema

  • 1996
  • 1 HR 33 MIN
  • NR
  • Drama

A blistering indictment of European involvement in African intertribal warfare wrapped in a subtle, existential mystery. July 1991: French physician Dr. Pierre Feldman (Jean-Yves Dubois) arrives in the tiny, war-torn East African republic of Port Djema after another doctor, his friend Antoine Barasse, is found murdered. Dr. Barasse worked in a remote clinic...read more

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Reviewed by Ken Fox
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A blistering indictment of European involvement in African intertribal warfare wrapped in a subtle, existential mystery. July 1991: French physician Dr. Pierre Feldman (Jean-Yves Dubois) arrives in the tiny, war-torn East African republic of Port Djema after

another doctor, his friend Antoine Barasse, is found murdered. Dr. Barasse worked in a remote clinic in the northern region of the country, providing medical aid to Assad rebels engaged in a brutal war against the ruling Massam tribe. Despite warnings from a shifty French diplomat (Christophe

Odent), Pierre makes the dangerous trip north in order to fulfill a promise to his old friend and discovers both the extent of his own country's responsibility for the bloody conflict, and the true nature of France's "neutrality." Director Eric Heuman and cowriter Jacques Lebas' film flatly

accuses France of first fomenting "a little war in a place no one cares about" (Port Djema is an imaginary country, but could easily stand for a number of African nations, from Algeria to Somalia and Rwanda, and France is hardly the only Western interloper), then claiming official neutrality while

working one tribe against the other. It may be fiction, but that's still quite an accusation, and it's delivered with minimal hysteria and a convincing degree of sadness. Elegantly shot by Yorgos Arvanitis, who's worked as cinematographer on many of Theo Angelopolous's films (Angelopolous himself

is credited as an associate producer), and featuring an effectively melancholy score by Sanjay Mishra, the film is suffused with an eerie quiet: the calm before a particularly savage storm.

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  • Released: 1996
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: A blistering indictment of European involvement in African intertribal warfare wrapped in a subtle, existential mystery. July 1991: French physician Dr. Pierre Feldman (Jean-Yves Dubois) arrives in the tiny, war-torn East African republic of Port Djema aft… (more)

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