IDFA - Bye Bye Africa + Doc Talk
If no films are made about a country, it becomes invisible. This is the view of director Mahamat Saleh Haroun and the character he portrays in this blend of fiction and non-fiction. Haroun plays a director who—just like him—has lived in France for 15 years, but returns to his homeland Chad, scarred by civil war. He finds that the cinemas have been replaced by video rooms that mainly show international movies.
In interviews filmed in black and white, people concerned about African cinema describe its plight. The fictional story, in colour, also reveals a great deal about the position of film in Chadian society, and about society itself. For example, the fact that the distinction between film and reality is not well understood by everyone—the director discovers that an actress in his film about AIDS has been disowned by her family because they thought she was really infected. Filmmakers have a serious responsibility, he realizes. Bye Bye Africa is the first feature-length film made entirely in Chad.
As part of the focus program Me, film journalist Nicolas Rapold (Film Comment) talks with Mahamat Saleh Haroun after the screening of Bye Bye Africa.