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Haroun discusses war and responsibility at Un Homme Qui Crie press conference Sunday

Mahamet-Saleh Haroun and the cast of Un homme qui crie brought a sense of quiet pride and solemnity to the press conference following the In Competition film's screening Sunday morning. Director Haroun discussed the tension and danger involved in the making of his film set in modern-day Chad. Un homme qui crie follows the story of a father and son, while also shedding light on the current tumultuous state of Chad as well as many other countries in Black Africa. 

Haroun explained that he learned to rise above the tension rather than succumb to it while filming in a war zone. "The tension creates a sense of emergency, so I chose to incorporate this tension into my film," Haroun clarified. The film focuses on the implicit rather than the explicit, sparing viewers from excessively violent scenes. Haroun accredited this to his goal of exposing the personal struggle of man in the midst of the disorder, rather than the war itself. The homme qui crie, the character of Adam, cries out against God, questions God's existence, and laments why God has abandoned his countrymen. The film is about a man grappling with his demons alone, according to Haroun, within a war-stricken environment with no apparent solution.

 

When asked if he felt a heavy responsibility, being the only Black African film in this year's Official Selection, Haroun thoughtfully replied: "Yes and no. Being the eldest son, I've never been able to shirk my duty. It's the same with my film. I have to do my work well, and that's all there is to it." Haroun keeps in mind the millions of Africans he's representing, and that leaves him no choice but to execute a worthy film. 

Haroun recurringly tells the story of father-son relationships in his films, including Un homme qui crie. Haroun attributed this to the idea that war is perpetrated by men, not women, and memories are traditionally handed down from father to son. "Women, for me, represent man's conscience," he disclosed. "They may seem to play a minor role in my films, but there are no minor roles."

Haroun went on to address the current state of Chad, describing the deep rift in the country. The rebels are rising up against the government, and the countrymen are torn regarding with whom to side. "Violence is a fact of life," Haroun said. "War is a part of my childhood memories, so perhaps I wanted to rid it from my memory through my film."

 

Actor Yousouff Djaoro responded to questions on how he prepared for his role, and what tricks of the trade he applied to identify with his character. Djaoro explained that he drew inspiration from real people, not acting classes. Actor Emile Abossolo M'bo elaborated: "You act as you breathe. The best acting school is everyday life. It's a powerful school, and perhaps the least known one."

The film's title, Un homme qui crie, references Aimé Césaire's poem which states, "A man who cries is not a dancing bear." Haroun hoped to show through his film that life is not a show, and at some point, we all cease to be spectators. "There are so many important things in life. It's difficult for me to film laughter," Haroun confessed. "Perhaps this can be done in Europe, but not in Africa. Not in Chad."

Un homme qui crie strives to remind people of the humanity of Africa, and Haroun and his cast elegantly and proudly presented their film, humbly representing the millions of people facing horror in Black Africa. 

Lauren Ellison 

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