Archive of films Waiting for Happiness / Heremakono

2002, 95 min

Section: Horizons - Awarded Films
Year: 2002

Nouadhibou is a small coastal town in Mauritania. Seventeen-year-old Abdallah comes to visit his mother before heading for Europe and leaving his country for good. Initial suspicion and prejudice against local traditions and language begin to dissolve after he meets the melancholy Nana, the elderly Maat and, above all, the orphan Khatra. FIPRESCI Award at the Cannes IFF 2002.


Nouadhibou is a small coastal town in Mauritania. Life passes by slowly among the whitewashed houses, during the singing of songs passed from generation to generation as they wait for imaginary happiness…. Seventeen-year-old Abdallah comes to visit his mother before heading for Europe and leaving his country for good. Because he doesn’t speak the local dialect he feels something of an outsider. Moreover, he’s far more interested in the latest European fashions than the colourful hand-woven originals the locals wear. At first he even ridicules their customs and avoids their celebrations, viewing this distant and unknown world with suspicion. But later he begins to yield. He meets young and melancholy Nana, a Chinese immigrant with a taste for karaoke, and the old maintenance man Maat, unhappy that he’s not much of an electrician. But he is most affected by a young boy named Khatra, an orphan who well understands the world around him. Khatra’s take on life is full of hope and tenderness…. FIPRESCI Award at the Cannes IFF 2002.

About the director

Abderrahmane Sissako (b. 1961, Mauritania) spent his childhood in Mali. He graduated from Moscow’s VGIK film school, living in the capital for more than ten years. In spite of this, his short, documentary and feature films generally take up relations between Africa and Western society, and the problems of immigration. His best known film is Life on Earth, which was screened in the Quinzaine des réalisateurs section at Cannes, as well as at the Toronto, Sundance and New York festivals. Filmography: The Game (1991, short), October (1993, short), The Camel and the Floating Sticks (1995, short), Sabyra (1996, episode from the series Africa Dreaming), Rostov-Luanda (1997, doc.), Life on Earth (1998) and Waiting for Happiness (Heremakono, 2002).

About the film

Black & white, 35 mm

Section: Horizons - Awarded Films
Director: Abderrahmane Sissako
Screenplay: Abderrahmane Sissako
Dir. of Photography: Jacques Besse
Editor: Nadia Ben Rachid
Producer: Nicolas Royer, Maji-da Abdi
Production: Duo Films
Cast: Khatra Ould Abdel Kader, Maata Ould Mohamed Abeid, Mohamed Mahmoud Ould Mohamed, Nana Diakité, Fatimetou Mint Ahmeda, Makanfing Dabo, Nema Mint Choueikh

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