The African state of Chad, 2006: 16-year-old Atim (Ali Barkai) has grown up in a country traumatised by perpetual civil war. When a government amnesty sets free all of the country’s war criminals, Atim’s grandfather hands him a revolver and tells him to aim it at the man who killed his father. Found easily enough, Nassara (played by Youssouf Djaoro) takes a shine to the lad, putting him to work in his bakery. After hesitating so long, can Atim tug the trigger? Writer-director Mahamat-Saleh Haroun (Abouna) knows this territory up close: wounded in the war himself, he was smuggled out of the country in a wheelbarrow. But Daratt (aka Dry Season) is no exercise in gritty realism. Taking its cue from Chad’s parched, barren landscapes, it’s more a stark, minimalist fable, rigorously controlled but imbued with hope and humanity.
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