English (United States)
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Jessica Beshir’s hypnotic, immersive and very beautiful documentary marks an impressive feature debut.
The New York Times
Unifying this elliptical canvas is the sense of a contemplative search, which can also mean an escape from an altered homeland, perhaps to dull what feels lost.
Los Angeles Times
In eschewing directness of intent for the artful massaging of space, sound and rhythm, Beshir’s film — a very personal project for the Mexican Ethiopian director, which she shot over 10 years — stakes a richer claim to our sense of the place and the effect of its most lucrative crop.
The film weaves a spell with its rhythms, sometimes slow, sometimes fast, all accompanied by a vivid and haunting sound design.
Leaving a traditional narrative structure in the dust, Beshir uses breathtaking cinematography to bring you into the Horn of Africa. The movie is moving poetry about the struggles in khat fields and Ethiopia itself.
The Film Stage
Journalistic in the sense that it feels like Beshir has compiled stray quotes, fleeting snapshots, and loosely connected thoughts from a journal into a dreamy cinematic form, Faya Dayi becomes more breathtaking as these images and ideas coalesce.
Faya Dayi is predominantly a mood piece that seeks to evoke the leaf’s own perception-altering properties.
Like RaMell Ross’s Hale County This Morning, This Evening, Faya Dayi wanders lovely, liminal spaces between narrative and fairytale, between documentary film and something looser, something personally vérité.
The documentary’s aesthetics strikingly channel the euphoric feelings induced by Ethopia’s top cash crop.
Faya Dayi is a film that invites the mind and soul with its visual grandeur, and keeps the viewer engaged with a tension and mystery that seems to be lurking beneath its surface. It’s familiar yet foreign — a world one must at once surrender to, yet be careful to not completely lose oneself in.
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