New Internationalist


December 2002

Set in Chad, Abouna – which translates as ‘Our Father’ – is a small-scale study of two children searching for their father. Tahir and his little brother Amine get up one morning to discover their father is missing. When he doesn’t turn up that afternoon to referee the local kids’ football game they know it’s serious. They look around the city for him only to discover a double life – for the past two years he has pretended to go to work.

John Lanchester’s novel Mr Philips and the recent French movie Time Out are also about family men who secretly abandon their jobs. Abouna, though, is not about the husband and father but about the effect on the children and their mother. In the local cinema the boys believe they see their father onscreen. They sneak back to steal the film reel and are arrested by the police. Their mother, determined they should learn right from wrong, sends them to a Qur’anic boarding school in the countryside. There the boys are beaten and dream of escape. Desperate for their father – whom they believe they’ll find in Tangiers – the brothers escape, intending to walk from Chad to the Mediterranean.

African cinema rarely gets to our screens. Haroun’s 1999 first feature, Bye Bye Africa, was mainly shown in a touring Human Rights Watch Film Festival. Abouna, his follow-up, has a somewhat wider distribution. See it if you can. With a soundtrack by Ali Farka Touré, it’s a refreshing alternative to multiplex dross.

Front cover of New Internationalist magazine, issue 352 This column was published in the December 2002 issue of New Internationalist. To read more, buy this issue or subscribe.

Never miss another story! Get our FREE fortnightly eNews

Comments on Abouna

Leave your comment


  • Maximum characters allowed: 5000
  • Simple HTML allowed: bold, italic, and links

Registration is quick and easy. Plus you won’t have to re-type the blurry words to comment!
Register | Login

...And all is quiet.

Subscribe to Comments for this articleArticle Comment Feed RSS 2.0

Guidelines: Please be respectful of others when posting your reply.

Abouna Fact File
Product information directed by Mahamat-Saleh Haroun
Star rating3

Get our free fortnightly eNews


Videos from visionOntv’s globalviews channel.

Related articles

Recently in Film

All Film

Popular tags

All tags

This article was originally published in issue 352

New Internationalist Magazine issue 352
Issue 352

More articles from this issue

  • How children saved the river

    December 1, 2002

    ‘Economy first’ is out. ‘Ecology first’ is in. Ma Guihua tracks the turn-about in the Chinese city of Chengdu.

  • Profit from principle

    December 1, 2002

    Kenyan forest endangered by local people has been saved... by butterflies. Katy Salmon flies in to find out why.

  • Brave steps towards peace

    December 1, 2002

    Dylan Matthews and Jason McLeod profile three peace activists putting their lives on the line.

New Internationalist Magazine Issue 436

If you would like to know something about what's actually going on, rather than what people would like you to think was going on, then read the New Internationalist.

– Emma Thompson –

A subscription to suit you

Save money with a digital subscription. Give a gift subscription that will last all year. Or get yourself a free trial to New Internationalist. See our choice of offers.