In November and December of 2006 the New Crowned Hope Festival was held in Vienna as part of the celebrations honouring Mozart’s Year. Seven films were made for the occasion by directors who do not come from “Western” culture. One of them, Chad-born Mahamat-Saleh Haroun, contributed with the film Dry Season, which, like Mozart’s opera La clemenza di Tito deals with the theme of the need for forgiveness and reconciliation. After the end of the four-year civil war in Chad, all war criminals were given amnesty, including Nassara, now a modest baker. It is he who 16-year-old Atim is looking for to avenge the death of his father. Atim has Nassara take him on as an apprentice and patiently waits for the right moment. The course of everyday events however begins to grind away at the tense emotions. Haroun’s frank, sometimes even raw, direction shifts the initial drama without haste to a grand finale confronting Atim with a fundamental decision. –Karlovy Vary
Born in Chad in 1961, Mahamat-Saleh Haroun left the country during the civil war of the 1980s and relocated to France, by way of Cameroon. There he worked as a journalist before studying at the Conservatoire Libre du Cinéma in Paris. He is now more than a dozen years into his career as a filmmaker, shooting primarily in Chad. This career has so far produced three feature films and a number of shorts that have made Haroun one of the leading lights in African cinema. He excels at spinning narratives that begin with easily recognizable situations – usually the loss of a parent – and expand to encompass allegorical and political reflection on the state of Chadian society. Often calm on the surface, Haroun’s filmmaking belies this calm with simmering strains of anger and melancholy. While occasionally compared to the work of Iranian directors Abbas Kiarostami and Mohsen Makhmalbaf, perhaps because of their deceptively quiet surfaces, Haroun’s films recognizably belong to an African tradition… read more
A man who cannot speak and a man who cannot see, and between them the only possibility for reconciliation a boy who cannot remember the events he has to avenge. Simmering themes of hatred, revenge, forgiveness, family, and masculinity run through this minimalist parable and moral tale for a war-torn Chad - but Haroun also has a very keen grasp of human emotions and his characters speak volumes with deadened stares.