Chad film 'A Screaming Man' scoops jury prize at Cannes

23rd May 2010, Comments 0 comments

Chadian director Mahamat-Saleh Haroun's "A Screaming Man" took the jury prize at the Cannes film festival Sunday.

The movie was the first made south of the Sahara to be selected in 13 years to compete for the Palme d'Or top prize at Cannes.

Shot with the desert country's on-off civil war raging in the background, the drama shows a swimming champion turned hotel pool attendant humiliated when the new cost-cutting Chinese owners force him to hand his job to his son.

"I come from a country where little exists," the 49-year-old director said on receiving his prize. "In this desert-like context I learnt one thing: you have to make films the way you'd prepare dishes for the people you love."

A slow-paced movie reflecting the rhythm of life in Africa, the magnificently-shot movie focuses on the tension between the middle-aged man and his son, also about to become a father, while evoking issues of corruption, conflict and poverty.

"My films aim to bring Africa back within the fold of humanity where it is often elbowed out. Africa has a place and a voice," the 49-year-old director told AFP last week.

"But you have to be a dreamer to continue to make films in countries where cinemas are closing down and where there is no local finance for film," he said.

Haroun, who has won festival awards with "Daratt" and "Bye Bye Africa", mirrors incidents from his own life in late 70s war-torn Chad when the movie father charges to the rescue of his son, press-ganged onto the battlefield.

As a young man Haroun was shot by a stray bullet and carried off to safety in a wheelbarrow by his father.

"The moral I guess is about people learning not to be mere spectators of their destinies but to act to change the course of history," he said at a Cannes press conference.

© 2010 AFP

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