Given the current recommendation to stay home and practice social distancing, we at the Chicago International Film Festival are looking at past selections from each year of the Festival that you can stream now from home. Stream our past selections as we look forward to the 56th Chicago International Film Festival this October 14-25, 2020. Find the full 56 Films for 56 Years selections here.
For today’s #56Films entry, film critic Nick Davis introduces the award winning drama A Screaming Man which won the Best Actor prize at the 46th Chicago International Film Festival in 2010.
Director: Mahamat-Saleh Haroun
46th Chicago International Film Festival
The protagonist of A Screaming Man is actually quite reserved, but the meaning of the title is never unclear. This drama from Chad is about quiet but intense desperations: personal, generational, economic, and national-political. Adam (Youssouf Djaoro, the Best Actor winner at our 2010 festival) is a former swimming champion who now proudly supervises the pool at a swank hotel. A multinational takeover prompts a round of layoffs that lead to Adam’s demotion, replaced in his beloved job by his 20-year-old son Abdel (Diouc Kona). Their newfound rivalry emerges just as uprisings around Chad lead to emergency military drafts; Abdel might have been recruited anyway, but his jealous father is clearly complicit in his conscription. That crisis arrives at the exact midpoint of this haunting film, which explores the personal tolls of poverty and war, the rationalizing of sin, and the difficulties of atonement. Writer-director Mahamat-Saleh Haroun, who earned prizes in Cannes as well as Chicago, uses sound remarkably well to evoke growing civil unrest, while keeping his camera mostly trained on the pensive, soul-sick face of the indelible Djaoro. Inspired at first by Haroun’s experience during Chad’s 1980 civil war, when he was about Abdel’s age, the story changed and deepened to reflect new outbreaks of rebel violence in the years before filming. Perhaps this is why the 50-year-old director summons equal compassionate for father and son, both stuck in new eras of combat and of capitalism, where no simple choices exist. — Nick Davis, Film Critic