Psychological thriller Blind Sun from Joyce Nashawati transports us to a water-scarce dystopian future almost entirely through its color scheme, sound scape, and central performance.
The premise of Blind Sun, Joyce Nashawati’s first feature film, is visionary, but the payoff is a bit underwhelming. Set in a near-future dystopian Greece, this is a world where water is scarce and controlled by the rich, the climate has warmed even more, and xenophobia has reached its zenith.
Blind Sun follows Ashraf (Ziad Bakri), a wandering foreigner who makes his living by taking care of the homes of the rich, which are in constant danger of attack. He finds himself stranded when an encounter with a particularly hostile cop leaves him without a visa in a foreign land where water is scarce and danger lurks behind every corner — or so he thinks.
Nashawati crafts a nail-biting psychological thriller almost entirely through sound design, colour scheme, editing, and her lead’s utterly convincing performance. Essentially, the film consists of a man lounging around a luxurious house that he’s caring for, but each scene brings new potential for horrors and danger. Nashawati fills the soundscape with high pitched white noise, unexpected in these surroundings, to tip us off that something isn’t right, especially as he drifts deeper and deeper into psychosis. The blinding orange sun pervades almost every frame of this saturated film, which is defined by orange, the cooling blue of water, and ever-reflective white.
Scenes fade into one another, and it’s never quite clear whether Ashraf is dreaming, conscious, or delirious: we see him awakening from an afternoon doze on multiple occasions, leaving us to question what has been real. As Ashraf is alone in most of the film, Bakri carries the film. He keeps us engaged with his character’s spiral and believing in this frightening world he finds himself in.
The Blind Sun will be presented in the Vanguard section at the Toronto International Film Festival, and it is an acquisition title seeking North American Distribution. The film screens Wed. Sept. 14 at 9 p.m. (HotDocs Cinema), Thurs. Sept. 15 at 10 p.m. (TIFF Bell Lightbox), and Sat. Sept. 17 at 4 p.m. (Jackman Hall).