An intimate parable of truth and reconciliation, Daratt (Dry Season) examines the fallout from Chad’s decades-long civil war. After the government grants amnesty to war criminals, 16-year-old Atim (Barki) travels from his home village to the capital city of N’Djamena to kill the man who killed his father. Atim’s intended victim, Nassara (Djaoro), now a pious baker with a young pregnant wife, takes the boy on as an apprentice, becoming a father figure to Atim even as the teenager waits for the right moment to exact his revenge.
Shot in the dusty streets of Chad, Daratt often feels like an American Western, even dealing with one of the genre’s central themes: the nature of justice in a society where men kill with impunity. There’s little violence in the film, but in a nation molded by perpetual war, the most ordinary of situations are fraught with its potential, as when a fellow bus passenger pulls a gun on Atim.No less attentive to the nuances of baking bread than to the moral shadings of vengeance, director Mahamat-Saleh Haroun is an uncommonly precise filmmaker who guides Daratt to an unusually satisfying ending. (Opens Fri; BAM.)—Joshua Land