x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Cannes: A Screaming Man

A moving account of the effect of civil war on ordinary lives.

This would make interesting viewing as a companion piece to Hotel Rwanda. Both contain similar elements - hotel workers affected by civil war in Africa (here it's Chad) - but the films could not be more different. While Hotel Rwanda was a heroic, Hollywood-esque tale of a lone man fighting against the odds, Mahamat-Saleh Haroun takes a more realistic approach to life affected by civil war. Like his previous film, the Venice award-winner, Daratt, the story centres on a father and son relationship. Everything seems to be going swimmingly with the former swimming champion Adam (Youssouf Djaoro) working in his 60s as a pool attendant with his son Abdel (Dious Koma) at a popular hotel frequented by western tourists. When the hotel is taken over by a Chinese company, Adam loses the job that he loves. Already, this is an Africa that we don't normally see on screen. On the radio and through conversations we learn that the 2008 Chad civil war is starting and fear rises. Abdel is conscripted and concern over his wellbeing mounts as the fighting intensifies. Through the relationship that Adam has with his wife and son, Haroun does a masterful job in highlighting his concerns with modern Africa, as he argues that whenever civil war strikes, Africa loses a generation and so continues to fall further behind the rest of the world.