Jessica Beshir’s feature directorial debut goes on a journey into the highlands of Harar, Ethiopia, to observe the rituals of khat, a powerful plant that Sufi Muslims chewed for religious meditations – and which is Ethiopia’s most lucrative cash crop today. Through the prism of the khat trade, the film charts the stories of people caught between violent government repression, khat-induced fantasies and dangerous journeys beyond borders.
Faya Dayi will also screen at Visions du Réel, Hot Docs Film Festival, and the Seattle International Film Festival this month. Brooklyn-based Mexican-Ethiopian filmmaker Beshir also produces the feature.
Cinetic Media is handling sales for international rights, and the deal was negotiated by Cinetic Media on behalf of the filmmakers.
Beshir is a recipient of the Sundance documentary fellowship, Jerome Foundation, Doha Film Institute and NYSCA artist fellowships. Her short films have screened at festivals and museums around the world including the Rotterdam Film Festival, Hot Docs, IDFA, Tribeca Film Festival, Museum of the Moving Image NY and the Eye Film Museum Amsterdam.
Upcoming multi-territory MUBI releases include Oscar-nominated Chloe Zhao’s debut feature Songs My Brothers Taught Me on April 9, Emma Seligman’s Shiva Baby on June 11, Sweat From Magnus von Horn, Dash Shaw’s Cryptozoo, Andreas Fontana’s Berlinale title Azor and What Do You See When You Look At The Sky from Alexandre Koberidze. MUBI also recently acquired all rights in the UK, Ireland and Turkey to Celine Sciamma’s latest feature Petite Maman and plans to release theatrically in all territories. The buyer also announced this week that it will be releasing Sergei Loznitsa’s State Funeral in select U.S. theaters on May 7.