The aesthetic approach as an art technique in film and video production has experienced a surge in the last decade among movie directors. Nowhere is this approach more apparent than in the production of historical movies that strive to tell past events from new perspectives. Such was the case when aesthetically oriented Chadian film maker, Mahamat Saleh Haroun wrote and directed A Screaming Man (Un Homme Qui Crie), an accurate representation of the current civil war in Chad.
The current Chadian Civil War (2005- present) pit government forces against rebels from various rebel groups. Mahamats Saleh Haroun’s movie is set against this chaotic backdrop, telling the story of Adam (played by Youssuf Djaro) as former swimming champion who is put at the intersection of the personal and political aspects of the war. It is the social, economic and political pressures of this war that threaten the love that exists between father and son. Adam works as a pool boy at a local resort that is managed by the Chinese. Management decides to lay him off during its downsizing efforts and his son Abdel soon takes his place. The protagonist later experiences intense pressure from the local authorities to contribute towards the government’s efforts to quell the rebels.
Due to his current financial condition and his inability to contribute monetarily to the government’s war effort, his son Abdel is forcefully conscripted into the army. His inability to protect his son from being forced to join the army leaves him distraught and full of guilt. Although Chad has a three-year compulsory military obligation policy (Ness And Lin 59), these provision are never fully implemented, meaning that it was possible for Adam to protect his son from forceful conscription. Forced military conscription, as depicted in the motion picture, is historically accurate. There were widespread reports of Chadian government forcefully conscripted young men in 2006 to combat this growing insurgency that also involved the Sudanese Janjaweed militia that conducted cross-border raids from their base in Darfur, Sudan (Crossley 139).
Another accurate depiction of this historical event is presented through the reconstruction of the situation the ground during the war and how the population still tries to lead normal lives. The atmosphere of war permeates Adam’s life. Jets can be heard flying overhead constantly, the increasingly frenetic reports about rebel advances and the fleeing of refugees from towns that are about to be overrun fills his daily life. Through it all, Adam perseveres and even has light moments with his wife Miriam when they decide to share sensuously a piece of watermelon while viewing the increasingly frightening reports in the news. The conflict has displaced roughly 168,000 Chadians(Fink 825), creating a refugee crisis that was presented accurately in the film, a constant reminder that aesthetically oriented film directors can also produce succinct historical motion pictures.