An Entrancing Journey into Ethiopia - 'Faya Dayi' Doc Film Trailer
by Alex Billington
August 18, 2021
"This token freedom is not enough for us." Janus Films has released the official US trailer for an acclaimed documentary film titled Faya Dayi, which first premiered at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival earlier this year. It also went on to play at the True/False Film Festival, Hot Docs, New Directors/New Films, Visions du Reel, IFFR, and Full Frame Film Festival throughout this year. Now set to open in art house cinemas starting this September. Presented in lush black & white, the film is a spiritual journey into the highlands of Harar, immersed in the rituals of khat, a leaf Sufi Muslims chewed for centuries for religious meditations - and Ethiopia's most lucrative cash crop today. This one is described in festival reviews as "the best kind of documentary, one that eschews standard, prefabricated forms and instead finds the mesmerizing beauty in the quotidian." It's a very slow moving film, rewarding in its richness and examination of rural life in Africa.
Here's the official US trailer (+ poster) for Jessica Beshir's doc Faya Dayi, direct from YouTube:
A sublime work of trance-state cinema, Faya Dayi is the debut feature documentary made by the Mexican-Ethiopian filmmaker Jessica Beshir. A hypnotic immersion in the world of rural Ethiopia, a place where one commodity—khat, a euphoria-inducing plant once prized for its supposedly mystical properties—holds sway over the rituals and rhythms of everyday life. As if under the intoxicating influence of the drug itself, Faya Dayi unfurls as a hallucinogenic cinematic reverie, capturing hushed, intimate moments in the existences of everyone from the harvesters of the crop to people lost in its narcotic haze to a desperate but determined younger generation searching for an escape from the region’s political strife. The film’s exquisite monochrome cinematography—each frame a masterpiece sculpted from light and shadow—and time-bending, elliptical editing create a ravishing sensory experience that hovers between consciousness and dreaming. Faya Dayi is directed by Mexican-Ethiopian filmmaker Jessica Beshir, making her feature directorial debut after a few shorts previously. This initially premiered at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival earlier this year. Janus Films will release Faya Dayi in select US theaters starting September 3rd, 2021.
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