A Chadian street photographer’s romantic interest in a would-be model lands him in a murky criminal underworld in this smart thriller.
Grigris starts with a some terrifically mesmerising dance sequences. With a skinny frame and withered leg, the titular Grigris (Souleymane Démé) jives, contorts and pirouettes in a Chad nightclub so expressively that other patrons fill his shirt and hat with money. Away from the dance floor, he is a struggling photographer who takes an interest in Mimi (Anaïs Monory) when she wants glamour shots to impress a modelling agency. But when his uncle needs expensive medical treatment, Grigris joins a dangerous petrol-smuggling operation that puts both him and Mimi in danger. Mahamat-Saleh Haroun’s film is a gentle and elegant drama bolstered by the emotional intensity that marks the performances from its debutante actors and which displays the talents of a director who, as in his previous work, is offering a fresh vocabulary and aesthetic of cinema.
Mahamat-Saleh Haroun was born in Chad. His work was brought to the fore at the 1999 Venice Film Festival, where his first feature film Bye-Bye Africa was awarded the prize for the Best Debut Film. His second film, Abouna – Our Father, was selected at the Directors’ Fortnight in 2002. Four years later, he was awarded the Special Jury Prize at the Venice Film Festival for Daratt, while the MoMa (Museum of Modern Art) in New York devoted a retrospective exhibition to his work. In 2010, his fourth feature film, A Screaming Man, received the Jury Prize in Cannes. That same year, he also received the prestigious Robert Bresson Award at the Venice Film Festival, as well as the Humanity Prize at the 34th Mostra in São Paolo, Brazil. Grigris is his latest film. It was presented in Official Competition at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.
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