Drawn from a novel by colonial officer Diégo Brosset, this curious amalgam of ethnographic study, documentary photography and semi-dramatisation promises much but fails to reconcile its diverse imperatives. Following a nomadic community in Chad, with their conflicts, travails and daily rituals, it deploys an almost exclusively fixed camera to somewhat oppressively observe the barely performing participants. A troubling third person voice-over relays any psychological insights, while standing in for almost all the onscreen dialogue. There are some wonderful sequences - with figures wrapped in wind, sand and distance - but the imagery can equally slip into the purely aestheticised, free of implication, and, ironically, free of the grit of living in such a place. The choice to film in black and white seems to exemplify this. It's too easy a route to timelessness, although some of the compositions do contain echoes of George Rodger's masterly studies.
Untouched by the West
Cast and crew