Hissein Habré, a Chadian Tragedy Screen 95 of 5 reviews

Hissein Habré, a Chadian Tragedy

2016

Hissein Habré, a Chadian Tragedy Poster
  • Over the course of its simple, unadorned 82 minutes, Mahamat-Saleh Haroun’s Hissein Habré: A Chadian Tragedy wrecks you in ways you might not have known were possible... I cannot imagine a more effective way to convey the horror of these experiences than to simply have these people recount them.

  • Haroun journeys through the country and films his travels to meet with the regime’s victims. He brings a profound compassion and a controlled rage to accounts of moral obscenities, while also recording accounts of deep solidarity among the victims, even under terrifying circumstances. They display their scars to Haroun’s camera and discuss, with furious frankness, the details of the torture that they endured, the unhealed wounds of their broken bodies and broken minds.

  • At a time when documentaries are increasingly resorting to gimmicky ruses, Haroun’s simple and austere film on Hissein Habré is a breath of fresh air... The film is a meditation on political barbarism that believes that a sober presentation of the facts is preferable, for better or worse, to the re-enactments and metafictional strategies of filmmakers like Joshua Oppenheimer. Like Claude Lanzmann, Haroun abjures the use of archival footage and foregrounds the testimony of victims.

  • Haroun’s film is a harrowing reminder of what happened while the world looked away, a memorial to those who suffered and died, and a tribute to those who had enough courage, determination and hope to fight back and prosecute Habré in the courts. The trial is now over; the verdict is due at the end of this month. It is the first time a former African head of state has been brought to a court of law by the people he terrorised. Haroun has done them proud.

  • By focusing his camera on those “half-men, completely broken” by Habre’s reign and allowing them to tell their stories, Haroun is helping his country to finally mourn its own tragedy, while his warm and understanding approach offers up what feels like a path toward appeasement.

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