large2021 National Gallery London Artist-in-Residence Ebab artist and filmmaker Ali Cherri makes her feature film debut, visually stunning, contemplative and mysterious, a magical social reality doctrine perspective. The script was developed by two French cinema heavyweights, producer-screenwriter Geoffrey Gleeson and director Bertrand Bonello, and will premiere in the Directors’ Fortnight section of the Cannes Film Festival in 2022 .
It’s a drama teetering on the verge of a heat stroke illusion, and it’s full of violence. In the background is the hydroelectric Merowe Dam on the Nile in northern Sudan; it is 2019 and President Omar al-Bashir is about to be ousted by the military after months of protests. Maher (played by Maher El Khair) works by the river, drying bricks under the scorching sun, and the foreman is always responsible for deducting wages. Listlessly succumbing to a metaphysical stupor, Maher listened to news reports of a revolution gaining momentum, and each night he went off to build a strange pagan statue, a bit like the wicker man of the Arab Spring, who seemed to be living its. Meanwhile, Maher is developing a worrying physical symptom of his own: a wound that could be the entry point for supernatural intelligence, introducing Maher to new thoughts.
Cherri has a remarkable sense of vision and composition, often creating stunning images of desert plains that look like Tatooine. What about the dam itself? The image of the government’s doomed attempt to stem the revolutionary tide? Maybe. It’s an interesting work, though it may be too enamored with Mach’s mysterious silence.