The great master-class of filmmaker Mahamat-Saleh Haroun in Mayotte

For a week, Mahamat-Saleh Haroun lent himself to the game of transmission, meeting workshops and debates following screenings of his latest film, with the Mahoran public. To conclude this very rich cultural week, the Lycée des Lumières received the filmmaker for a major conference around his “work”, followed by the presentation of the film. Lingui, the sacred bonds.

It is 1 p.m. this Friday, October 7, the Kham’s amphitheater at the Lycée des Lumières is almost full. Gilles Collin, film professor, announces the arrival of Mahamat-Saleh Haroun to thunderous applause. The guest arrives on stage very relaxed, but with a certain emotion. The conference between the filmmaker, the teacher and the mostly student audience can finally begin.

Haroun answers questions

“What is cinema for? »

Gilles Collin launches hostilities around questions related to Haroun’s cinema, but also the messages he seeks to deliver. Very simply, the filmmaker evokes the social and unique part of a modest cinema, but essential for Africa.

“For a long time, films in Africa were made by filmmakers from elsewhere. It was a vision, but not the one that Africans could have of their countries” explained Haroun to the attentive audience.

Very quickly, the director does not fail to deliver a special message, with a touch of humour, for the young people of Mayotte, and more particularly, for future local filmmakers: “you have to tell stories that come from where you live. Don’t try to copy. Get inspired, but don’t make copies. Especially not Americans. »

Mahamat-Saleh Haroun has a special history with his country of origin, because he left it in the middle of the civil war, to become a refugee in France, during his higher education. He is a bit like the Thomas Sankara of cinema. It is moreover because he briefly evokes the Burkinabe revolutionary that this comparison comes to mind. Haroun never stopped wanting to tell the stories of his people, and that’s why he repeatedly returned to the lands of his childhood. Moreover, as we said in a previous text, all his films, with the exception of A Season In France, were filmed in Chad. His view of his country is quite critical and sometimes even served for political reflections. Lingui, the sacred bondshis latest film, directly evoking abortion, gave birth to a group of women, fighting so that they can decide to stop their maternity, in a certain legality.

Mahamat-Saleh Haroun does not fail to mention that it has often been seen that a film with a strong political discourse sometimes allows real change: “in Belgium, for example, there is the Rosetta law, which directly concerns the most precarious people. It’s from the movie Rosetta by the Dardennes Brothers, Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 1999.

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The time of dedications between the filmmaker and a student

The Chadian filmmaker likes to say that even in great sobriety (his films are not blockbusters) great messages can be delivered. He himself says that he has no vocation to change the world, although a student in the audience points it out to him; but that on its small scale, if it can make you think a little and move things around, the satisfaction will be there.

Questions and a movie

Secondly, the floor is given to the audience. The public can ask all the questions that come to mind. Often, these are relevant remarks, around the fact that they have a certain admiration for the nerve and the talent of the filmmaker – most cinema students have seen at least three films by Haroun, as part of their training and of the week of workshops meetings with the special guest. Questions often arise around its founding subjects. The “true story” side appeals to many. Very modestly, the director says that he has often been prompted with stories. As he is the only recognized local filmmaker, each time he comes to Chad, depending on certain neighborhoods, women or men ask him to make a film about such and such a person or even about improbable news items.

It is precisely in this last case that was born Lingui, the sacred bonds. A portrait of fighter women, wanting to get out of the codes. We discover the film in a very awake room, reacting on the few offbeat sequences, which can recall certain situations in Mayotte, but also violence. What to hope that for this last point, behind some laughter, this will lead young people to think more, rather than letting go of a subject too often trivialized on our island.

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Lingui and the announcement of the conference are displayed at the entrance to the amphitheater

Haroun was also very receptive to the outcome of the screening, to the many reactions. Most of them were synonymous with thanks and admiration. The filmmaker was congratulated for filming with such delicacy a poignant and essential story of mother and daughter, in their neighborhood held by the patriarchy. It’s a bit like a resonance box for our territory.

Some students did not fail to ask that Haroun dedicate their Liaison notebook to them. A young man expressed himself as follows into the microphone: “This is the first time that a filmmaker who won an award at Cannes has come to see us. I would like to keep a souvenir of your visit. Can you write me a dedication? “. Haroun obviously lent himself to the game of autographs and numerous selfie photographs. Many will remember the filmmaker’s visit. And it is hoped that others will follow for an endless transmission.

For the more curious, most of Mahamat-Saleh Haroun’s films are available on the Universciné, MyCanal and Mubi platforms. All of his work is to be seen and reviewed, beyond the social and political reflection, the stories are filmed in high cinematic quality.

Germain Le Carpentier

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The great master-class of filmmaker Mahamat-Saleh Haroun in Mayotte