Jessica Beshir crafts a poetic, sensorial journey into the highlands of Harar in eastern Ethiopia, the birthplace of khat.
World Cinema Documentary Competition
Sundance Program Description:
Khat, a flowering plant with leaves that produce a stimulant effect when chewed, has been harvested in Ethiopia for centuries. With social significance in communities around the world, khat is a cash crop, sustaining so many who have worked in the fields for generations. However familiar the work is, some young people who have grown up in its shadow want more. They consider leaving home and all they have ever known for something new, faraway, and, while perhaps more economically beneficial, lonelier and more isolating.
In her debut documentary feature, Jessica Beshir takes us to a world of beauty and lyricism that must be seen to be truly experienced. A spiritual journey with mesmerizing photography that channels a khat-like high, FAYA DAYI brings together the ethereal and the material, tying another plane of existence to the reality of this world, with its real people whose destiny is bound to their home, their land, and what it produces.
Past Sundance docs:
Hairat (short, 2017)
Beshir makes her feature directorial debut with this project, which received support from the Sundance Institute Documentary Fund. She also serves as the film’s director of photography. Beshir’s previous work has screened at IDFA, Hot Docs, Rotterdam, and Tribeca, among other notable events.