Friday, September 24, 2021

ABORTION DRAMA COMES TO CANNES VIA AFRICA

July 9, 2021 by · Leave a Comment 

It’s an anomaly: a film, written and directed by a man, about a mother’s struggle to seek an abortion for her teenage daughter, who is determined to have one even at the cost of her life; a film produced in the central-African country of Chad, where there is not a single movie theater to screen it; a film selected to compete at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival, where films made in Africa are rarities and especially ones selected for the main competition for the Palme d’Or. But here we are this year with Mahamat-Saleh Haroun’s Lingui: The Sacred Bonds, a story in which religion is far from sacred but the bonds between mother (played by Achouackh Abakar Souleymane) and daughter (played by Rihane Khalil Alio) are. Critics have lavished it with praise, not only for its intense plot and engaging performances but also for its striking photography and sound design. But above all, they seem struck by the cris de cœur of feminism echoing in each vivid scene, resounding sometimes in whispers (A woman in the town who performs ritual female genital mutilation confides that she only “pretends” to do so.) And while there may not be any theaters in Chad where Lingui may be presented, It will have an audience. As Tim Robey in the London Daily Telegraph observed, it will be shown on an “underground basis, at film clubs, and shared among those in the know.” All covertly. Like abortions.