The Senegal River forms the national border between Mauritania and Senegal. In 1989, war broke out between these countries, along and around the river. Both sides committed atrocities. Senegalese filmmaker Alassane Diago was just a young child at the time.
Now he brings together his “Senegalese and Mauritanian family,” all victims or witnesses of the bloodbath, so they can talk in detail about their traumatic experiences. He wants to find the truth, and to bring about reconciliation. Why did they slaughter each other, and why were so many people “deported”? Was there systemic racism involved, under the white and Arab elite? Was it a case of ethnic cleansing?
In understated, functional style, Diago films 40 of the people involved as they reconstruct this little-known history. They tell Diago, or each other, what they experienced. The detailed testimonies speak for themselves, but even more articulate are the victims’ facial expressions, body language, faltering and silences—as well as the tears of those who listen.