I have yet to fully explore this but I’m starting to think that I have an inclination for indie films about love created by black men. Theodore Witcher’s Love Jones. Barry Jenkins’ Medicine for Melancholy. Terence Nance’s An Oversimplification of Her Beauty. And now Djinn Carrénard’s Donoma, which I caught at New Directors/New Films:
Donoma exists without a translated trailer and only a few clips with English subtitles. It was mostly through images that Carrénard got my attention. When I added Donoma to M&W’s viewing list, I noted “love triptych. Paris.” Limiting my brief synopsis to three words wasn’t intentional but upon reflection, it uses very little to say a lot as does Carrénard with this feature debut.
Three women, three interwoven storylines create this enticing guerrilla film.
Enticing because Carrénard respectfully breaks the rules of traditional storytelling. In each of the three stories, Donoma shifts back and forth between present and past sometimes quickly and with little or no transition. He, then, ends the film without any resolve but in a fashion I haven’t been able to appropriately name in brief. Rather than easing you out of the story or offering some metaphoric conclusion with an obvious meaning, Carrénard ends the film in the midst of great emotion.
Though the non-traditional aspects of the film and 133-minute runtime can be mentally demanding, Donoma allows you to consider your own ideas about love without being overwhelmed. Carrénard, who was studying philosophy when he realized he was a filmmaker, makes this allowance by introducing his thoughts on love very subtly throughout the film.
Though the three stories are meant to discuss different types of love (the passionate, the day-to-day, and the religious kind), one audience member noted, during the post-screening Q&A, that all three women were disturbed in some way. In response to this Carrénard first joked that this was a result of having two sisters, then more seriously he responded that because he is a man, anything he creates involving women will be misogynistic. It’s only upon reviewing his work is he able to see the misogyny. Though misogyny is an intense word, I think Carrénard’s point was to acknowledge the male privilege he holds while creating his female characters.
Continuing on the point of saying a lot with a little, it’s been reported that Donoma was created on a budget of $200. In the post-screening Q&A, Carrénard explained how he was able to make the film on such little money. Everything that he used to make the film was either borrowed or gifted. He only came up with the $200 figure after being pressed at Cannes about the film budget and being reminded by a crew member about the tuxedo – a $200 tuxedo was used in a scene that was later cut from the film. (If this isn’t inspiration for every artist, I don’t know what is.)
For those curious about the film’s name: Donoma is a Sioux word meaning the day has come (according to Carrénard) or similarly, sight of the sun (according to a bunch of random internet sources). Carrénard chose to use a Sioux word because the name of his birth country, Ayiti (Haiti), has origins in a language of people indigenous to the Americas as well.
There is no word on an American distributor as of yet but I’m hopeful since it did go to theaters in France after its Cannes debut. If you’re in the NYC area this week, you can catch it at BAM’s Ghett’Out Film Festival.