Faya Dayi Unclassified 18+
In an Ethiopian community dependent on its cash crop in more ways than one, a new generation’s furtive hopes slip through the cracks.
As a pillar of the national economy, a widespread drug of addiction and a supposed source of religious ecstasy, khat has a fraught status in modern-day Ethiopia. For 14-year-old Mohammed, living a dead-end life in the predominantly Muslim khat-farming city of Harar, the plant is a source of oppression and diversion. But the real escape he longs for is to find his absent mother in Saudi Arabia, where he believes she ventured years before.
Fresh from this year’s Sundance Film Festival, Ethiopian-born writer/director Jessica Beshir’s feature debut is as ambitious as it is eye-opening. Shot in striking monochrome, it takes a dreamily cinematic approach to its documentary observation, pairing examinations of the crop’s journey through supply chains with enigmatic portraits of residents and poetic voiceover.
“Beshir’s gorgeous freeform black-and-white picture reveal[s] itself as a poetic study of a country intoxicated into listlessness … Spellbinding.” – RogerEbert.com
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