Jessica Beshir’s lyrical Faya Dayi is an ode to an Ethopia searching for escape, whether through the spiritual (and chemical) highs of khat, the country’s most lucrative crop, or across the seas where new opportunities may lie.

The rich black and white cinematography allows for a deeper, sensorial viewing experience — the sight of dappled light on water and shadows flickering through gauzy curtains, the sound of mud slapping against a hut wall, the rustle of khat leaves along the production line.

At times the pace feels a little too languid, but Beshir’s film settles into a mythical space where the struggles of everyday life and future dreams blend together to offer sanctuary for a community.

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