Awarded annually by Harvard’s Film Study Center, the 2008 Genevieve McMillan and Reba Stewart Fellowship for Distinguished Filmmaking was awarded to Mahamet-Saleh Haroun (1961- ), the Chadian filmmaker now living in France. As an extension of the HFA’s retrospective of Harun’s films this April, we are offering a second program this fall highlighting the director’s most recent work. The selection also reveals the broad parameters of Haroun’s filmmaking: both documentary and fiction, feature film and short, diaristic and poetic, African and European, classically distanced and warmly intimate.
This program is co-presented with the Film Study Center at Harvard. Special thanks to this year's selection committee members: Francis Abiola Irele, David Pendleton and Mylene Priam, as well as to Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Ernst Karel of the Film Study Center.
All films in this program directed by Mahamat-Saleh Haroun.
Please note that Haroun's in person appearances have been canceled.
Directed by Mahamat-Saleh Haroun
With Ali Bacha Barkaï, Youssouf Djaoro, Khayar Oumar Defallah
Chad 2006, 35mm, color, 96 min. Chadian Arabic with English subtitles
Following the Chadian government’s announcement of an amnesty for war criminals after decades of civil war, teenage orphan Atim is handed a revolver a mission of vengeance by his elderly grandfather: to travel from his tiny rural village to the capital and kill the man who murdered his father many years ago. His target turns out to be not a bloodthirsty monster but a devoutly religious Muslim baker who gruffly takes the young would-be assassin under his wing as an apprentice. The elliptical story, graced with notes of humor and expressive silences, unfolds with some surprising twists before ultimately resolving into a quietly wrenching drama of personal accountability and moral choice.
Chad 2001, video, color, 14 min. French with English subtitles
A video letter suspended between Africa and New York, this fictitious diary centers on Taja, a young Chadian newly arrived in New York.
With Youssouf Djaoro, Mata Gabin, Assane Kheïro.
Chad 2008, video, color, 28 min. French and Chadian Arabic with English subtitles
Haroun’s latest short film about migrants in Africa tells the tale of Moussa, recently returned to his village after an unsuccessful trip to the desert and confronted by the men who lent him money for the journey.
These screenings will be preceded by A Commemoration of Geneviève McMillan (1922-2008) at 5pm and a reception in the Main Gallery of the Carpenter Center at 6pm.
The Film Study Center and the Sensory Ethnography Lab at Harvard University are hosting an evening of remembrance of the remarkable life of Geneviève McMillan, who passed away in May of this year. McMillan was an art collector, philanthropist, businesswoman, and generous supporter of the arts at Harvard. She personally established the McMillan-Stewart Fellowship in Distinguished Filmmaking at the Film Study Center.
Directed by Mahamat-Saleh Haroun
With Marius Yelolo, Mata Gabin, Aïssa Maïga.
France 2008, video, color, 81 min. French with English subtitles
Reminiscent of the Stephen Frears/Hanif Kureishi collaborations of the 1980s, Sex, Okra and Salted Butter offers a marked contrast with Haroun’s earlier features. An ensemble comedy set in France, Haroun’s latest film tells the story of a recently emigrated African family reeling from the mother’s sudden departure with her white lover – merely the fist in a series of shifts that shake the family—and especially its patriarch—to the core. Many of Haroun’s signature preoccupations are in full flower, however - absent parents, revenge versus reconciliation – all seen through his lucid visual style that gives this sharp-edged comedy of manners plenty of space to breathe onscreen.
Chad 2005, video, color, 52 min. Chadian Arabic and French with English subtitles.
Kalala was the Congolese name of Hissein Djibrine, Haroun’s close collaborator and best friend, who hid that he was HIV-positive until his sudden death in 2003 at the age of 40. Of this poetic documentary, dedicated to his friend, Haroun has said, “I thought of this film not only as a filmed diary but also as an investigation into memory, cinema and illness.”