Ethiopian legend has it that khat, a stimulant leaf was found by Sufi Imams in search of eternity. Inspired by this myth, Faya Dayi is a spiritual journey into the highlands of Harar immersed in the rituals of khat, a green leaf that Sufi Muslims chewed for religious meditations and Ethiopia’s most lucrative cash crop today. Through the prism of the khat trade, Faya Dayi weaves a tapestry of intimate stories of people caught between violent government repression, khat-induced fantasies and treacherous journeys beyond their borders, and offers a window into the dreams of the youth hunted by a repressive regime.
Jessica BESHIR is a Mexican-Ethiopian director, producer and cinematographer based in Brooklyn. She made her directorial debut with her short film Hairat, which premiered at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, (Criterion). Her short films, He Who Dances on Wood (PBS) and Heroin (Topic), have screened in festivals and museums around the world including Hot Docs, IFFR, IDFA, Tribeca Film Festival, the Eye Film Museum, and the Museum of the Moving Image in New York, among others. Faya Dayi is Jessica’s feature debut.