movie-review logo az world news

FAYA DAYI (2021, ETI) Movie review, plot, trailer

FAYA DAYI (2021) - Documentary - HD Trailer - English Subtitles

A bit of real documentary exoticism is brought to us by the Mexican-Ethiopian director, cinematographer and actress with a New York address Jessica Beshir. She traveled to the hilly areas of Harar, Ethiopia to make an essayistic, artistic, even somewhat hallucinogenic black-and-white documentary. This is not surprising because the focus is on local residents who grow a plant called khat. It is said to be the most expensive plant to grow in Ethiopia and has been used in religious meditations there for centuries. Maybe Jessica herself was on the khat when she was filming and editing “Faya Dayi” because this is a rather monotonous arty documentary and it seems almost like a kind of spiritual journey.

Visuality and style are the strongest assets of the documentary, which won awards at numerous prestigious festivals such as the Grand Prix at Nyon Vison de Reel, but with a good two hours, it was too long and too strenuous for my taste. All the more so because the film doesn’t have a main narrative line to follow and “Faya Dayi” didn’t manage to hold my attention until the end. Of course, it says that the locations are great and that the atmosphere of this film is extremely unusual, and the director was inspired to shoot this film by personal experience. Namely, she was born in Harar, but even as a teenager she had to move away, and when she returned later, she realized that a large number of residents had become addicted to this sacred plant. And not only imams who use it for religious rituals, but also average residents who are addicted and just waiting to be visited by dealers and afford them a spiritual journey and a brief escape from the not-so-bright reality.