There is such a fine line between art and pretension, and this just barely stays on the good side.

ethiopia, united states, qatar, 2021, amharic, harari, oromo


Faya dayi

It feels almost trite to say this, but we’re back in it’s-been-so-long-since-I-watched-this territory. In this case more than two weeks have passed due to a combination of illness and family responsibilities. To be honest though, I’m not sure I would have had that much more success writing about this even if I had done it the next day. This film left me with very little to wrap my mind around.

I liked this film. It was just pretty and interesting enough for that. Plus, it’s the first film in the collection that has anything to do with Ethiopia, a place I feel oddly connected to. I say odd because I’m not Ethiopian, and I have never been there. But, it’s really not that odd at all. My mother was a linguist for all of my childhood and her specialty was in Ethiopian languages. My parents house is still filled with Ethiopian art, and I have eaten so much good Ethiopian food. I used to work for an Ethiopian family and I dated an Ethiopian woman. That is all to say that I have quite a lot of connection to the people and the place.

Having said all that, I actually have basically no connection to the people of this film. That’s because they are Oromo, a Cushitic ethnic group that isn’t part of my mothers area of study. So the language and the people in this film were all new to me. That’s the part I found fascinating. What I struggled with was basically everything else.

This isn’t a documentary. I don’t really know what this is. A trip maybe. It’s “about” a mild hallucinogen called khat and I think the purpose of the film is to make you feel like the people eating those leaves do. The film it itself an attempt to create a psychedelic space. Which is an endeavor I fully endorse. My issue is that everything was just so damned pretentious that it kept taking me out of that energy. The whole thing teetered endlessly on being either too boring. or way too precious, for its own good. I ended up liking the experience, but just barely.