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Written and directed by Mauritanian expatriate Abderrahmane Sissako, this 2002 French drama presents a kaleidoscopic portrait of a West African village wedged between the desert and the sea. A young man returns home after years of travel; the rather elusive narrative follows him through a series of impressionistic encounters with villagers (an old electrician and his orphan ward, a Chinese vendor who sings karaoke tunes in Mandarin, the local hooker) who, like him, are fleeting figures in the transition from tradition to modernity. The images Sissako unscrolls are artfully composed and arrestingly exotic, and the film's meditative languor conveys a feeling of mystery and regret. In French, Hassanya, and Mandarin with subtitles. 95 min.

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