Apr 14, 2020

Fajr (Lois Patiño, 2016)

☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼ out of 10☼

Lois Patiño's films belong to the realm of ultra-slow cinema. They radiate Calm that could easily be dubbed supernatural, and they're imbued with the special kind of non-religious spirituality that allows you to find the link between your inner self and the universe, and cross, if only for a few moments, into another dimension, equally tangible and abstract, cold and intimate.

Even in Fajr whose title has a double meaning in Arabic - 'dawn' and 'the Islamic call to prayer' (adhan), the approach to spiritual discovery is not theistic, but rather filmic. Shot in the Moroccan desert, this gorgeous tone poem sees motionless human figures punctuating the vast, surreal landscape until they begin dissolving into thin air, as if translated onto another plane of reality. Only disturbed by the wind, their stillness mystifies the viewer and their disappearance thickens the aura of enigma surrounding them.

Observed from a distance, these liminal apparitions / mystical entities / Fata Morganas of the highest order are complete in their stubbornly silent incompleteness, eternal in their transiency and resistant to our gaze. The visual compositions that they occupy breathe through subtle changes of lighting, with shadows acting as void(s) where our meandering thoughts are sucked into. Their pure, ascetic, meditative beauty transcends our perception of both time and space, hypnotizing us into zealots pursuing the secrets and dreams buried deep beneath the layers of sand...


  1. Lois Patiño is on a league of his own, I would call his work Butu cinema, and at 36 years old, Lois is already a master of his technique, to my eyes...

    I had the immense pleasure to close my Berlinale 2020 with his first movie, Lua Vermella... an astonishing voyage into the moon archetypes, again with very static protagonists, sort of making the fluidity of the places the main characters.

    Thanks for bringing his name again, and I feel that also your description is quite in-sync with mine... it's a sublime pleasure of a very high order, for senses that I don't completely understand today, but they rejoice inside of me quite the same.

    1. Thank you for the insightful comment!

      I still haven't seen Lua Vermella, but I'm eagerly anticipating it.