Cannes Film Festival: an ex-Bordeaux in the running for the Palme d’Or

DIn two hours, he and his team will be at the top of the steps of the Palais des Festivals. Thursday, July 8, early afternoon: Chadian filmmaker Mahamat-Saleh Haroun gives a few minutes to “Sud Ouest”, before heading off to prepare for the presentation of his film, “Lingui”, in competition. He seems to be a gentle and calm man in all circumstances. Even when approaching…

DIn two hours, he and his team will be at the top of the steps of the Palais des Festivals. Thursday, July 8, early afternoon: Chadian filmmaker Mahamat-Saleh Haroun gives a few minutes to “Sud Ouest”, before heading off to prepare for the presentation of his film, “Lingui”, in competition. He seems to be a gentle and calm man in all circumstances. Even as this oh-so-exposed rendezvous approaches, there is no sign of excitement or stress in him.

It must be said that he is a regular. His second feature, “Abouna” (2002), was selected for the Directors’ Fortnight. And in 2010, “A Screaming Man” won the Jury Prize.

Mahamat-Saleh Haroun has lived in France since the 1980s. He arrived from Chad, at the age of 22, in… Bordeaux. “I had friends there, an address: when you come from Africa, you count on this solidarity to find someone to host you. He stayed there until 2003, his children are still there.

“My true passion”

Twenty years in Gironde. And already the dream of becoming a filmmaker. “I went to the cinema for the first time at the age of 9 in Chad, it turned my life upside down,” he explains. The seventh art was my real passion, but I was not able to make a living from it. I was writing short stories and in Bordeaux, I wanted to try journalism. I passed the IUT competition, it was gone. »

At the time, the future director worked in several Aquitaine media. Especially for “South West Sunday”. He directed short films, and in 1998 shot his first feature, partly at home, due to a lack of means for the sets. “Bye bye Africa” thrills the press, receives several awards. Beginning of a one-way trip to the big screen.

The reporting school

From film to film, he imposes a style. Great economy of words, few characters, bright, overwhelming daylight, a lot of work, to reconstruct daily life in N’Djamena, on sounds, both urban (din of cars, motorcycles) and rustic ( rooster, hens, goats). “Journalism was very important in the formation of my writing as a filmmaker. I always recommend that students start with this job, because you learn to go to the essentials, to the bare essentials. And reporting requires you to have an eye for detail. »

He is often presented as the only Chadian filmmaker. “Despite a population of 15 million, there is no cinema industry in Chad, he regrets. There was, to see films, only one room, which unfortunately collapsed. »

“Lingui”

Filmed in the suburbs of N’Djamena, “Lingui” tells the story of Amina, a single mother, who discovers that her 15-year-old daughter, Maria, is pregnant. A pregnancy, the result of rape, which the teenager does not want, in a country where abortion is condemned by religion, but also by law. Alone, marginalized, watched: the film describes women trying to survive in a hostile environment where patriarchy and religion poison their lives. Released in France this fall.

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Cannes Film Festival: an ex-Bordeaux in the running for the Palme d’Or