“Lingui, les ties sacrés”: a militant film by Chadian director Mahamat-Saleh Haroun on abortion and excision

Director before being Minister of Tourism Development, Culture and Handicrafts of Chad from 2017 to 2018, Mahamat-Saleh Haroun was (A screaming man) in competition in Cannes with Lingui, the sacred bonds which comes out Wednesday December 8th. Rare major director of the African continent, passionate about his country whose love he shares in his films, progressive and reformist, Mahamat-Saleh Haroun shakes up taboos by denouncing excision and the ban on abortion in his country.

Daughter-mother rThrown out by her family, Amina lives alone in a suburb of N’djaména, the capital of Chad, with Maria, her only 15-year-old daughter. She lives poorly on a small craft made from salvage, when Maria tells her that she is pregnant and wants to have an abortion. Despite the condemnation by the Muslim religion and the legal proceedings they incur, Amina will do everything to get her out of this bad situation.

Mahamat-Saleh Haroun admirably films the white and golden light that illuminates N’djaména, where the incessant ballet of two-wheelers roars through the streets. We are at Amina’s side, in her little rudimentary workshop where she makes decorative objects, the only resource of this blacklisted single-parent family. Would the director be exotic and cliché? The decor is in any case evocative, and the sense of frame, color and movement is in each shot.

Amina is an outcast who only seeks to step aside, to integrate into a neighborhood that rejects her. Her daughter’s pregnancy brings her back to what she experienced in the past, as if history repeats itself. Compassionate, she will help him. But the danger is everywhere: the rumor spreads, the Imam puts pressure, and soon the police. A discreet solidarity is organized between women, but will it hold?

Rihane Khalil Alio in & nbsp;"Lingui, the sacred bonds" by Mahamat-Saleh Haroun (2021).  (PILI FILMS: MATHIEU GIOCOMBINI)

If Mahamat-Saleh Haroun is didactic in his scenario, it is because he wants to initiate his compatriots to societal changes which require a transformation of Chadian mentalities, anchored in religion and traditions. He declares that he wants to take his film across the country, in order to raise awareness among the populations. Isn’t the West itself facing an ideological regression in the face of abortion? The filmmaker also poses the question of excision, in a magnificent scene where the women, accomplices, share with a broad smile their satisfaction at having fooled those around them by performing a false operation.

Lingui, the sacred bonds, of great visual beauty, is less convincing by its interpretation of non-professionals, too bad. But the message gets through and the gripping dramaturgy deserves heartfelt recognition for its necessary enterprise.

Poster of "Lingui, the sacred bonds" by Mahamat-Saleh Haroun (2021).  (AD VITAM)

Gender: Drama
Director: Mahamat-Saleh Haroun
Actors: Achouackh Abakar, Rihane Khalil Alio
Country : Chad / France / Belgium / Germany
Duration : 1h27
Exit : December 8, 2021
Distributer : Ad Vitam

Synopsis: In the suburbs of N’djaména in Chad, Amina lives alone with Maria, her only fifteen-year-old daughter. Her already fragile world crumbles the day she finds out her daughter is pregnant. This pregnancy, the teenager does not want. In a country where abortion is not only condemned by religion, but also by law, Amina is back in front of a fight that seems lost in advance …View comments

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