An African high-school teacher (Eriq Ebouaney) flees his war-torn country for France, where he falls in love with a Frenchwoman (Sandrine Bonnaire) who offers a roof for him and his family.
A Season in France
The story of a father in France trying to build a new family with the woman he loves could be a simple one. But when the man is a migrant from the Central African Republic and his lover a white French citizen, simple domestic acts take on high-stakes risk. The story of intimate lives scarred by national borders is the story of our time but it has never before been told with the empathy or the urgency that Mahamat-Saleh Haroun brings to A Season in France.
Back in his home town of Bangui, Abbas (Eriq Ebouaney) was a respected scholar. He taught French, while his brother Etienne (Bibi Tanga) taught philosophy. Now, in Paris where they hope to gain asylum, Abbas works for a produce vendor, while Etienne works security. Abbas' wife was murdered when the family fled the Central African Republic's civil war, and Abbas often wakes from nightmares calling her name. He suppresses his trauma for the sake of his children, but the fear and anger inside him manifests itself in his relationship with Carole (Sandrine Bonnaire, also at the Festival in Catch the Wind), a matter-of-fact woman trying to begin a new life with him.
Haroun's films have often explored political conflicts in his native Chad but he is as powerful when he digs beneath the impassive exteriors of his characters. His is a cinema of the mind. As Abbas struggles to navigate French bureaucracy in front of his son, or Etienne stands idly guarding a Paris pharmacy, we see a glimpse of contemporary sacrifice, simmering.