Khat is an ancient drug used frequently by the people of Africa and the Middle East,especially by Sufis who would chew the leaves as a means for religious mediation (known as “merkana”). Nowadays, it plays a determining role in Ethiopia’s economy as it is the country’s main export. Through a personal story, a hypnotic documentary made of soundscapes and textures shaped by sunlight, document’s Khat’s footprint on a nation surrendered to its euphoric hallucinations.
ETHIOPIA, USA, QATAR | 2021 | B&W | DCP | 120’ | OROMIFFA, HARARI
Documentaries tend to take us along a journey. However the best of them beam us up to another world. ‘Faya Dayi’ is completely otherworldly. With a hypnotic rhythm, evocative sound design and black and white cinematography ensuring an impressive, haunted stylization, we travel to eastern Ethiopia, another African region where people were forgotten and were left chewing khat, the laurel-like leaf that has a slightly narcotic quality, putting the body to sleep and waking the mind to the rhythm of lost lives and past loves. Exemplary art-house, which deals, in its way, with every burning political issue of our world’s terrible inequality (finance, environment, immigration) and hopes that in the end you will feel privileged – and maybe a bit more responsible. I.D.
DIRECTOR: Jessica Beshir
SCREENWRITER: Jessica Beshir
DoP: Jessica Beshir
MUSIC: William Basinksi, Adrian Aniol, Mehandis Geleto, Kaethe Hostetter
EDITORS: Jeanne Applegate, Dustin Waldman
Director born in Mexico, who grew up in Ethiopia. She studied Film at UCLA. She has directed several short documentaries and a work for television. This is her feature film debut.
2021 Faya Dayi