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VENICE 2006 Competition

Daratt: A barren hatred


What is more necessary, in an African country, than bread? Or those who knead it artfully, cook it and sell it every day? But what if behind that generous and somewhat gruff man, who gives away his baguettes to the poorest children that huddled around his bakery, lies a ferocious killer, an ex-war criminal?

In a modern-day Chad torn apart by hatred, after the government pardoned the criminals of a civil war that took 40,000 victims, young Atim, on a search for the man who killed his father before he was even born, finds himself before the baker, a man on his own (agonising) search for redemption. Will he use the gun his grandfather gave him on the man or else forget, forgive and look to the future? Mahamat-Saleh Haroun (45), who studied film in Paris and journalism in Bordeaux, already a prize-winner at Venice for his 1999 directorial debut Bye Bye Africa, has made a dramatic and tense film, which appears like a landscape after the storm, starring a sublime Youssouf Djaoro (can we hope for a prize for the actor?).

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"I was in Chad during the civil war and wanted to pose questions on evil with this film", said Haroun. "Our next door neighbour could be an assassin, we all have our diabolical side, which each of us can overcome by working on our conscience. The tragedy of a civil war is that it never ends, the thirst for vengeance devours us. This is why we must overcome hatred".

Like several other festival titles, the €1.5m Daratt [+see also:
film profile
is part of the New Crowded Hope Festival of Vienna, and was produced by director Abderrahmane Sissako ("Producing this film was an act of sharing", he told Cineuropa) for his french compagny’s Chinguitty Films and Haroun’s Goi-Goi Productions, in co-production with Diana Elbaum and Sébastien Delloye (Entre Chien et Loup, Belgium), Illuminations Films (UK) and Arte France Cinéma, with contributions from Fonds Sud Cinema, the CNC and the French Minister of the Exterior, backing from Fonds Images Afrique, La Coopèration belge au Dèveloppement – DGCD, Belgium’s Foreign Affairs Office, the city of Vienna and the Centre du Cinema and l’Audiovisuel de la Communauté francaise de belgique et teledistributers wallons, and with the participation of Canal + in association with Sofica Soficinèma2 and Tèlè-chad.

“I met Haroun in Rotterdam,” Belgian producer Elbaum told Cineuropa. “My choice was first and foremost a personal one. As far as backing from the French community in Belgium is concerned, I want to stress that its qualitative rather than simply commercials elements were more important”.

The film will be released in Chad in October. International sales are being handled by Pyramide International.

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(Translated from Italian)

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