Tag Archives | Mahamat Saleh Haroun

The disidentification of Mahamat Saleh Haroun

2019 marks the twentieth anniversary of Chad’s first feature film, ‘Bye Bye Africa.’ It is a blessing and a curse to bear the title of a country’s “first feature film.” As we saw in the past decade with Haifa Al-Mansour’s Wadjda from Saudi Arabia, a country’s first feature can generate attention and momentum to inspire a future generation of filmmakers. In 1999, Mahamat Saleh Haroun’s Bye Bye Africa debuted as the first feature film from the country of Chad. The film is to an extent autobiographical, enlisting techniques of both fiction and nonfiction filmmaking to tell the story of an exiled filmmaker returning to Chad to make a movie, identical in many ways to Haroun’s own journey. The film was a runner-up for Best First Film at the Venice Film Festival and launched Haroun onto a string of feature-length dramas set in Chad: Abouna, Daratt, A Screaming Man, and Grisgris. Despite its richness in philosophy, buttressed by Haroun’s careful dialogue as well as his deliberate alternation between Arabic and French, the film has been remembered as simply Chad’s first feature film, the one that helped launched Haroun’s career. Yet if one digs deeper than the surface-level film reviews, they may expose Haroun’s very personal statements of cultural disidentification throughout Bye Bye Africa as […]

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