Dir. Mahamat-Saleh Haroun. France/Belgium/Chad.

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The acclaimed director of Daratt, Mahamat-Saleh returns with a telling meditation of an ageing African male that has a deftness and humanity within it, which won the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 2010.

Said screaming man is Adam (Youssouf Djaoro) who is a happy pool attendant at a fancy hotel in civil war Chad.  Adam shares the duties of his job with his 20 year old son, Abdel (Diouc Koma), yet there are fears over the future of job security owing to the investment of Chinese money into the infrastructure of the hotel.  Many workers fear for their job, one is David (Marius Yelolo), a chef who in the few scenes he shares with Adam gives wisdom and advice - upon hearing the unwanted news, David says to Adam, 'the problem is we put our fate in the hands of God'.

After this news, Adam is told he has been demoted to the role of gatekeeper of the hotel - the man who must raise and lower the barrier for cars and other motor vehicles - whilst Abdel has been given sole responsibility of the pool.  Hence, Adam feels embarrassed and devalued as a man as well as a trusted worker.  His role as moneywinner is further but into question by the demands of a local district chief who keeps pestering him for money to help with the war effort.  (It should be noted that there is never any mention or reason given as to why Adam keeps saying he is broke and cannot pay.)  Yet the conversations with the chief lead to Adam making a decision that will lead to a terrible act of betrayal.

Haroun has a real assuredness behind the camera - he cleverly shows a difference between the workplace environment and the home environment; one is vibrant, the other is still - but he does this without going to lengths of changing the tone or colour of the palette, instead relying upon the performances of his actors who are front and centre.  A good scene at the start shows Adam with his wife, Mariam, as they eat food together you feel the warmth of their love, but in the background is a television with news of the civil war ongoing.  The scene tells you two things; the personality of Adam is enhanced as a loving husband and provider, nevertheless the civil war intrudes upon their sanctuary, as it will do later on with more tragic consequences.

The script, also written by Haroun, asks questions about duty (to work, to family, to your country), the idea of loyalty to the same factors and the father and son dynamic (an ongoing trope of Haroun's previous work).  Adam is jealous of Abdel as much for his youth as for being selected for the job of pool attendant; but once Abdel's pregnant girlfriend, Djeneba (Djeneba Kone) appears this affection for his son is reassessed leading to the final act of the film.

This conclusion of the film - whilst an eventual part of the narrative - is handled deftly offering the chance of reconciliation with a distinctness and deftness you rarely see, giving ample opportunity to his DoP, Laurent Brunet to shoot some wonderful landscapes of the Chadian landscape.

Djaoro as Adam gives a strong central performance as he morphs from the the life and soul of the hotel to an aged man broken by promises and his own selfish acts.  At the end a screaming man (because if the title of the film was 'The Screaming Man' it would lose that universal feel), wonders the plains and wading in the river.  But he wonders around in the best African film since Moolaade.

A Screaming Man was released on Friday 13th May, 2011 by Soda Pictures.
Jamie Garwood

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