Tensions between fathers and sons and a background of war rear their ugly heads again in this remarkable fourth film from Chadian director Mahamat-Saleh Haroun (‘Bye Bye Africa’, ‘Abouna’, ‘Daratt’). Haroun’s simple framing and meditative, chat-free storytelling offer a wise parable about ageing, pride and conflict in modern Africa. Here, economics and war disrupt the routine of Adam (Youssouf Djaoro), who, having been a swimming champion in 1965, now spends his days guarding a hotel pool, helped by his son Abdel (Diouc Koma). There’s news on the radio of an escalation of war and financial pressures cause the hotel’s bosses to transfer Adam to guarding the hotel’s gate and replace him with his son. Not long after, Adam makes a fateful decision to contribute to the war effort in a way that has serious repercussions for him and his family.
Haroun filters grand themes and issues into the most personal of stories, but he also creates space for reflection so that we can accept this as much more than a Chadian or even African tale. It’s an intelligent, good-looking film and one that confirms Haroun as one of Africa’s leading filmmakers.