Civil war has raged in Chad, and terrorised its population of 10 million, since 1965. In director Mahamat-Saleh Haroun's Daratt - it means "dry season" - we follow 16-year-old Atim (Ali Bacha Barkai) as he leaves his village to seek out the war criminal who killed his father, planning bloody revenge. But when Atim finds his target, Nassara (Youssouf Djaoro), a strange, uneasy friendship starts to develop. This is a brooding, subtle study of how it feels to live in a country wracked by perpetual, inhuman violence.
In the remote village of N'djamen Atim and his grandfather hear that the government has granted amnesty to all war criminals. Outraged, Atim's grandfather instructs the boy to seek out his father's murderer, and kill him. But when Atim finds Nassara, he discovers a man now married and settled into a quiet life as a local baker. Despite inner turmoil, he finds himself taken under Nassara's wing, and beginning a new life as an apprentice baker. Will he ever, now, be able to complete his mission?
"THIS IS A FILM THAT ASKS: WHAT IS COURAGE?"
This is a film that asks us: what is courage? Atim struggles viscerally to find the courage to shoot Nassara, only to find that, perhaps, it would take more to let his sworn enemy live. We get a powerful glimpse, meanwhile, of the lives of a people wearied by 40 years of all-encompassing war, coupled with intense, emotionally resonant performances from Barkai and Djaro. It's the on-screen electricity that crackles between these two men that makes this film so compelling, that we can't help but watch as they spiral towards an inevitable confrontation.
Daratt is out in the UK on 27th July 2007.