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50th San Francisco International Film Festival at PFA

Friday, May 4, 2007
7:00 p.m. Daratt
Mahamat-Saleh Haroun (France/Belgium/Chad/Austria, 2006)

This fable-like gem opens in a small village in Chad, as the government is about to announce the fates of those accused of war crimes during the country's decades-long civil war. Atim and his grandfather crouch by a small radio to await the verdict; controversially, the government decides to grant amnesty to all war criminals. This devastating decision prompts the boy's grandfather to assign him one mission in life: to kill the man who murdered Atim's father during the war. Armed with a revolver, he is told to return only when his task has been completed. Atim makes his way to Chad's capital, N'Djamena, to seek out the murderer, yet when he finds the man, a taciturn baker named Nassara, the gravity of taking someone's life proves heavier than he first thought. As Atim grows close to the baker and his wife, his promise of vengeance becomes increasingly fraught with complicated consequences. Daratt ("dry season") is a poignant and beautiful story of revenge and redemption with an incredibly satisfying, thought-provoking ending. Commissioned for acclaimed theater director Peter Sellars's multimedia New Crowned Hope festival celebrating the 250th anniversary of the birth of Mozart, the film resonates with themes the great Austrian composer explored in his late works.

—Tessa Swigart

• Written by Haroun. Photographed by Abraham Haile Biru. With Ali Bacha Barkaï, Youssouf Djaoro, Djibril Ibrahim, Aziza Hisseine. (93 mins)