A Season in France
Une saison en France
Panorama | Spotlight on France
Chad’s pre-eminent filmmaker, Mahamat-Saleh Haroun, rose to worldwide prominence with A Screaming Man (VIFF 10), winner of the Jury Prize at Cannes in 2010. His latest is a change of pace: a long-time resident of France, Haroun has brought his humanist values and sense of urgency to bear on a Paris-based immigrant story of love frustrated by both bureaucracy and prejudice. Its pertinence could not be more topical; its deeply empathetic tone could not be more rare.
Having fled the civil-war-ravaged Central African Republic for Paris, Abbas (Eriq Ebouaney, the lead in Lumumba, screened at VIFF 00), a respected academic in his homeland and the widowed father of two pre-teen children, now barely fends for his family by peddling produce in one of Paris’ many markets. While doing battle with France’s singularly complicated immigration system in order to secure a visa, the one bright light in his circumscribed universe is Carole (Sandrine Bonnaire), a woman he met at the market who has become a loving companion. Abbas must deal with his traumatic past—his wife was murdered in his country’s war—and the vicissitudes of an unforgiving country or his chance at a new life will come to nought… Through it all, Haroun offers a compassionate and visceral account of the lot of illegal immigrants struggling to maintain a sense of their own dignity and, in the process, makes a personal story a universal tale for these troubled times.