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Faya Dayi

Jessica Beshir

Jessica Beshir’s hypnotic and majestically cinematic documentary goes deep into the dilemma of those who stay and those who leave. Set in Ethiopia, Faya Dayi looks at one of the country’s few thriving economies: the trade in khat, a drug that grants mild euphoria, that has been part of the region’s culture for generations.

While there are those who envelop themselves in khat’s lotus-eating, others consider the risks and opportunities of an exit to the West. Shot in hallucinatory black and white, with an editing scheme that feels like lapping waves more than soundbites, Faya Dayi is an immersion in the otherworldly.

"...the rare documentary that demands to be seen in a cinema."

Faya Dayi sits elegantly besides Mati Diop’s Atlantics as a film that makes something electrifyingly magical from what could have been a superficial look ‘behind the headlines’. Granting lives in developing nations the right to dream and with an insider’s eye of the beauty of the country, filmmaker Jessica Beshir’s debut is an astonishing achievement, the rare documentary that demands to be seen in a cinema.

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