Our Father


Mahamat-Saleh, Tchad, France, 2002


We follow two characters on a walk, immersed in a world unveiled by a long tracking shot, which goes from the edge of a town, to the ground crammed with rubbish, to an isolated cow, then to a road in the distance… With these elements from reality, the film-maker renders truth as art: in this very wide shot, on a blue-skied and ochre earthed background, blurred by dust and smoke, the boys are just two silhouettes who march across the world. A voice over places us at the heart of the kids’ subjectivity. They are completely absorbed by their father’s mysterious disappearance. When they arrive at the bridge on the border between Chad and Cameroon, we watch the world being transformed by the boys’ emotional state (the hope for finding their father). The frontier scene is, in fact, filmed very differently. We experience it through the children’s perception of waiting, situated in the middle of the crowd. It is filmed in a fragmented way, with hiding, eye line matches, sketched out moves, small scenes caught on the go - the exchange of a note, the soldier opening the fence – edited together in a rapid series of shots. The scene ends with a shot symmetrical to the one which opens the extract, with the path of the boys filmed in a long, wide shot. Their wait has been in vain; they are now alone in a world filled with absence, alone in the frame. The film-maker leaves landscape, time and space to his characters to invent new moves, and to find a new way of behaving in the world found through improvised games.