Raindance 2020 film review: Nafi’s Father
Ivan Radford | On 05, Nov 2020
Religious and personal conflict collide in this debut from director Mamadou Dia. Filmed in a Senegalese town, it comes with a low-key attention to the detail and specifics that come from first-hand experience, and that intimacy is what sticks with you after the end credits roll.
The film follows Tierno (Alassane Sy) and Ousmane (Saikou Lo), two brothers who are at odds with each other. That’s partly because Tierno is the acting imam for the town of Matam and has a moderate outlook on customs and traditions. Ousmane, on the other hand, has fallen into a more fundamentalist strain of Islam, and has ambitions to grow his base of support. Their opposing views of the world and religion are stoked by Tierno’s daughter, Nafi, wanting to marry Ousmane’s son, Tokara. Tokara may be nothing like Ousmane, but the very thought of her falling under the influence of Tierno’s older brother is unthinkable to him.
What ensues is a tragic tale, in many respects – with some moments of humour – but it’s the way that Dia lets his characters bring nuance and complexity to their web of tensions and disagreements that really stands out. Nafi’s father (note that the film isn’t named after her) is, himself, restricting her genuine dreams of marrying the man he loves, and that patriarchal control over her life (she longs to go to college to study) means that, even in the face of more radical extremism, he’s not entirely faultless in this situation either.
The sibling rivalry, which dates back to their own childhood, is wonderfully acted by Alassane Sy and Saikou Lo, while the ripples that flow out from their clash of wills and ideologies are subtly observed with an understanding not only of culture but also of community. Dia’s pacing is a little on the glacial side, but captures the beauty of the area in a sincere, unromanticised way that both contrasts and amplifies the internal struggles at play. A poignant and thoughtful watch.
Nafi’s Father streams at 5pm on 3rd November and 12pm on 5th November. To book a ticket, click here.