12 23 oct '21
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Jessica Beshir

Faya Dayi

Officiële Selectie – In Competitie 120' - 2021 - Documentary - Dialogue: Amharic - Format: DCP
Director: Jessica Beshir Composer: Adrian Aniol, William Basinski, Mehandis Geleto, Kaethe Hostetter With: Mohammed Arif, Ibrahim Mohammed, Hashim Abdi
Faya Dayi takes us on a spiritual journey through the prism of the khat trade and offers a window into the aspirations of the unemployed and oppressed youth and elders alike for whom chewing khat to achieve Merkhana (the high of khat) has become a radical escape, a space of socialization and revolt against oppressive forces.
Mon 11 Oct
14:30
Kinepolis 6
Subtitles: Dutch - English
Wed 13 Oct
22:00
Kinepolis 8
Subtitles: Dutch - English
Special guest
Thu 14 Oct
17:00
Kinepolis 8
Subtitles: Dutch - English
Special guest
Fri 22 Oct
17:45
Kinepolis 8
Subtitles: Dutch - English

For centuries in Ethiopia, the Sufi Muslims of Harar have chewed the khat leaf for the purposes of religious meditation. However, over the past three decades, khat consumption has broken out of Sufi circles and entered the mainstream to become a daily ritual among people of all ages, religions and ethnicities. It’s also become Ethiopia’s most lucrative cash crop. Faya Dayi takes us on a spiritual journey through the prism of the khat trade and offers a window into the aspirations of the unemployed and oppressed youth and elders alike for whom chewing khat to achieve Merkhana (the high of khat) has become a radical escape, a space of socialization and revolt against oppressive forces. For many, Merkhana is the only place where their hopes, dreams and aspirations can live.

Faya Dayi features the khat supply chain from harvest to market as its ever-present humming background. At the film’s heart is Mohammed, a fourteen-year-old who works as an errand boy for the daily khat chewers in the walled city of Harar. He lives with his father who, like so many in town, chews khat daily and often fights with Mohammed due to the mood swings caused by his addiction. The khat-chewing lifestyle of the adults that surrounds Mohammed and the inherent political pressures against oppressed Oromo youth like him, lead him to dreaming of reuniting with his mother who “took the boat” across the Red Sea to Saudi Arabia in
search of work when he was a small boy. He often speaks internally to her as a survival mechanism to ward off his loneliness.

Through his eyes, we meet the dwellers of Harar and Mohammed’s friends in the khat farming community who are instrumental in shaping his decision to finally take the treacherous journey to join his mother across the Red Sea.

“Mexican-Ethopian docmaker Jessica Beshir presents a country caught in a khat haze in her debut feature Faya Dayi, constructing a loose intergenerational narrative around the elder harvesters for whom khat is both their daily bread and daily escape, and the youngsters keen to escape its enveloping, addictive aura. Yet it rather feels as if the central character in this stylishly oblique hybrid work is khat itself: Shot by Beshir herself in sumptuous, tissue-textured black and white, Faya Dayi is predominantly a mood piece that seeks to evoke the leaf’s own perception-altering properties. In this regard, the film is an immersive success.” - Variety

Image gallery

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Credits

Director

Jessica Beshir

Composer

Adrian Aniol, William Basinski, Mehandis Geleto, Kaethe Hostetter

With

Mohammed Arif, Ibrahim Mohammed, Hashim Abdi

Scenario

Jessica Beshir

Director of Photography

Jessica Beshir

Editor

Dustin Waldman, Jeanne Applegate

Producer

Jessica Beshir

Production studios

The Doha Film Institute

More information

Dialogue

Amharic

Subtitles

English, Dutch - English

Countries of production

United States of America, Qatar, Ethiopia

Year

2021

Filmography

Jessica Beshir
He Who Dances on Wood (short, 2016), Hairat (short, 2017), Heroin (short, 2017), Kings (short, 2018)

Technical Specs

Format
DCP

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