Lingui,The Sacred Bonds

Reviewed by Vaughan Ames

Our film last weekend was a rarity: from Chad in Africa by director Mahamat-Saleh Haroun. He has previously concentrated on films about boys struggling to find themselves in this very male dominated society, but here he changes focus to look at the solidarity and mutual aid (the 'Lingui') of the oppressed women there. The film follows the attempts of Amina (rejected by society as an unmarried mother) to support her own daughter, Maria, when she too gets pregnant. The difference between them is that Maria wants an abortion – illegal and seen as immoral in Chad.

Haroun is a director who likes to give the audience the chance to work things out for themselves so there was little action, just the camera following the players around as decisions were made, emotions made to flow. We soon worked out Amina would try to get the abortion for Maria, whatever it cost (and she was willing to offer a lot, even her own body to a neighbour she saw as interested in her). It wasn’t a huge surprise that she was successful in the end, though there was one unexpected surprise that it was this same neighbour who had raped her daughter.

The film had a happy ending with the 'Lingui' of the women of the area celebrating together. A thought-provoking, beautifully made film.