Faya Dayi

2021 [AMHARIC]

Documentary / Drama

Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 97%
IMDb Rating 6.8 10 340

Plot summary

Uploaded by: FREEMAN
August 10, 2022 at 12:51 PM


Top cast

720p.WEB 1080p.WEB
1.06 GB
Amharic 2.0
24 fps
1 hr 58 min
P/S 5 / 19
1.97 GB
Amharic 2.0
24 fps
1 hr 58 min
P/S 7 / 33

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by samxxxul 7 / 10

Mystical and profoundly moving

Very few films are this ruminative and this hypnotic. Completely mesmerizing, the black and white never feels like a gimmick at all and only enhances Faya Dayi's effectiveness. The film captures the rituals around 'khat,' a stimulant hallucinogenic leaf along with its inception, harvesting, consumption and business in rural Ethiopian town of Harar. It is also used in Sufism rituals but the WHO has classified it as abuse. We see that almost every adult is prone to chew Khat to escape the harsh reality and they see it as an alternative for missing out on the eternal water. The younger generation dream of a better future and it is seen through the eyes of Mohanmmad, one of the characters in this amazing documentary. He wishes to escape and there is evidence of a vivid imagination. But reality soon explodes in his face, separated from his mother, he is caught in the cycle of no return resonating with the socio-political turmoil of the region and will never be able to leave it behind.

"Faya Dayi" is the debut feature by Ethiopian-Mexican filmmaker Jessica Beshir, who spent 10 years crafting a black-and-white niche oddity supported by great sound design and score. On the surface, this might sound like a generic documentary with all the genre troupes but Jessica Beshir takes a slow and meditative approach, managing to immerse the viewer in just over two hours with a deep thought aimed at the Khat harvesters. I really hope it takes home the Oscar, a much deserved honour indeed and i wish it will harvest many appreciations. But i feel this film's success would be more rooted in the deep discussions and lasting experience it evokes after completing it.

Reviewed by alexblok-35204 10 / 10

Impressionistic and Documentarian Story of a Collective Dream

This subtle film is impressionistic and documentarian. It's the story of a collective told lyrically. I'm reminded of Hiroshima Mon Amour without the affect and focus around two specific lovers.

Faya Dayi is also the universal story of drug addiction, oppression, marginalization, escapism (literal and metaphorical), love (family, nation, land, place, space). Replace khat with another drug and see how illicit substances not only control minds but endemic economies as well. We may not know the Ethiopia of this film, but we can make certain parallels with the struggles of disenfranchised people from all over the world, who might even live in cities like Chicago, for instance, and the story would resonate somehow despite the lavish pastoral setting, which harkens to a glorious past and radiant people.

The film often makes you wonder where the young men plan on landing and what they plan on doing should they leave the miasma of their ancestral land behind to become refugees willing to be eaten by the fish of the sea on a perilous voyage.

This film is also the story of the films that go on in people's minds (dreams) as Mohammed reveals. In other words, it's a film about film. It's about the khat that makes people unpredictable and engenders dreams or films of the mind, yes; still, it's also about that infinite metatheatre of films within this one photographic film uniting an entire community's interior monologues into a single story. Really, this explains the film's form and delivery, which won't be everyone's cup of tea; it's also the story of "sober" dreams displayed by the film's youth. Will the powerful Eurocentric world offer them predictability? A rational, linear, powerful alternative to their seemingly cyclical misery?

The film is gorgeously shot using lots of chiaroscuro elements and photographic techniques. I was impressed with all the little frames used to make this point-doorways, archways, bowers with light piercing true at subtle yet important moments. Kind of like Antonioni and Caravaggio but with regard to a different subject, time, and place. Much more profound and personal.

This film is utterly unique and yet is in conversation with so much philosophically in terms of form, art, culture, sociology. There's much to glean, but you have to let go in order to hold on, if that makes sense. Let the people tell their story. Don't force them into your own frame of mind (to borrow a photographic term).

Worth watching and rewatching if you can on Criterion.

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