×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Toronto: ‘A Season in France’ Examines Immigrant Issues

A high-school teacher fleeing his war-torn African nation finds refuge in France, only to learn that the life he tries to build there is fraught with fear, uncertainty, and the traumas of the life he left behind.

A Season in France,” the new feature by acclaimed Chadian helmer Mahamat-Saleh Haroun, is a timely portrait of lives scarred by war and migration, set against the backdrop of Europe’s ongoing refugee crisis.

Pic world premieres as part of the Special Presentations program at the Toronto Int’l. Film Festival. It’s the sixth appearance in Toronto for Haroun, who won the Grand Jury Prize in Cannes in 2010 for “A Screaming Man.”

Inspired by the story of a Chadian refugee in France who burned himself alive when his asylum request was rejected, Haroun describes “Season” as an effort to “tell the story of [the] invisible faces” of immigrants who arrive in Europe, hoping to rebuild their lives.

At a time when the refugee crisis has vexed European policy-makers and raised urgent questions about how the world responds to the suffering of millions fleeing war and unrest, the filmmaker describes the situation as “a human tragedy.”

“We can’t chase these people [away],” he says, citing the example of his native Chad, an impoverished nation which has welcomed an estimated 400,000 refugees. “It’s a question of compassion and humanity.”

“Season” tells the story of Abbas, a high-school teacher from the Central African Republic, who is forced to flee his country’s civil war. With his brother and his two young children, he attempts to find asylum in France. But memories of his past life – including a wife who was killed during the war – continue to haunt him, even as new love seems to offer him a chance at a fresh start.

Over the course of a celebrated career, Haroun has poignantly depicted the struggles of his native Chad. “Season” marks the first time he’s lensed a film entirely in France, enabling him to explore his own complicated relationships with both his native and adopted homelands.

“I know very well the reality of refugees looking for asylum,” says the helmer, who emigrated to France from Chad in the 1980s. “Thirty years ago, I was one of them.”

His latest film, he says, is a way “to let people enter the interior lives of asylum-seekers,” adding that if there is “no understanding, [there is] no compassion.”

More Film

  • Nadine Labaki

    Cannes: Nadine Labaki to Head Un Certain Regard Jury

    Lebanese filmmaker Nadine Labaki has been named president of the jury for Un Certain Regard in Cannes. The Festival said Labaki had been chosen after “moving hearts and minds at the last Festival de Cannes with her Academy Award- and Golden Globe-nominated ‘Capernaum,’ which won the Jury Prize.” The organizers noted Labaki’s films have all [...]

  • Osmosis

    Netflix Unveils Four More French Originals, 'Gims,' 'Anelka,' 'Move,' 'Of Earth And Blood'

    As it prepares to open a fully-staffed office in France and ramp up its investment in local originals, Netflix has unveiled three new documentaries, “Move” (working title), “Gims” (working title), and “Anelka” (working title), and the feature film “Of Earth And Blood” while at Series Mania in Lille. Announced during a panel with Netflix’s commissioning [...]

  • Miramax Developing 'I Won't Be Home

    Film News Roundup: Miramax Developing 'I Won't Be Home for Christmas'

    In today’s film news roundup, “I Won’t Be Home for Christmas” is in the works, the NFL has made a documentary about female team owners and D Street Pictures has signed Kenny Gage and Devon Downs to direct the dance feature “Move.” HOLIDAY PROJECT Miramax has acquired film rights to Lauren Iungerich’s holiday-themed screenplay “I [...]

  • Michael B. Jordan arrives at the

    Michael B. Jordan to Star in Warner Bros.' 'Methuselah' Movie

    Michael B. Jordan will produce and star in a “Methuselah” movie for Warner Bros., based on the Biblical story of a man who lived to be 969 years old. Jordan will produce through his Outlier Society production company along with Heyday’s David Heyman and Jeffrey Clifford. Warner Bros. has been developing the project for many [...]

  • Davids Chief Piera Detassis on Revamping

    Davids Chief Piera Detassis on Revamping Italy's Top Film Awards

    Piera Detassis recently became the first woman to head the David di Donatello Awards, Italy’s equivalent of the Oscars. Since then she’s been busy overhauling the inner workings of the prizes that will be awarded on Wednesday. Detassis, also the editor of Italian film publication Ciak, spoke exclusively to Variety about the challenges she’s faced [...]

  • Matteo Garrone's 'Dogman' Leads Davids Awards

    Matteo Garrone's 'Dogman' Leads Davids Awards Race

    With 15 nominations Matteo Garrone’s “Dogman” leads the pack of contenders for Italy’s David di Donatello Awards in a watershed year for the country’s top film nods that sees highbrow auteur titles reaping most of the David love just as local box-office grosses hit an all-time low. Garrone’s gritty revenge drama is followed closely with [...]

  • steven spielberg Apple TV Plus

    Steven Spielberg's Apple Appearance Riles Up Social Media: 'Big Old Mixed Message'

    Many Hollywood heavyweights flocked to Apple’s Cupertino, Calif. headquarters to help reveal the tech giant’s revamped steaming service Apple TV+ on Monday — but one such legend was so polarizing he became a national trending topic on Twitter for simply showing his face. Steven Spielberg was the first to appear in a dramatic short film [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content