Screened in Directors' Fortnight at Cannes last year, Abouna is a bracing look at the dissolution of a rural Chadian family seen through the eyes of two young boys, from director Mahamat-Saleh Haroun and executive producer Abderrahmane Sissako (director of Waiting for Happiness. MIFF 2002).
15-year-old Tahir and his younger brother, eight-year-old Amine, are fun loving kids who live with their parents in a small community in Chad, near the Cameroon border. When their father fails to turn up one day to referee a soccer match, the boys' world is thrown into chaos. Their embittered mother offers no help in finding him, so the boys decide to look for their missing father themselves, leading them to trouble in a local cinema. Overwhelmed by recent events, the boys' mother sends them away to a strict boarding school. Instantly disliking their surroundings, Tahir and Amine scheme to escape the torturous school, forging an even stronger bond between themselves in the process. With stunning camera work from master Ethiopian cinematographer, Abraham Haile Biru, and blessed with wonderfully natural performances from the young leads, Abouna is an intimate and revelatory film.