Lingui, the Sacred Bonds
Director: Mahamat-Saleh Haroun
Stars: Achouackh Abakar Souleymane, Rihane Khalil Alio, Mounira Michala, Youssouf Dhajaro
The simple fable-like story and brief running time belie a complex and thematically rich portrait of a mother and daughter in contemporary Chad. Amina (Souleymane) is a practicing Muslim and single mother living on the outskirts of the Chad capital N’Djamena. She and her fifteen-year-old daughter Maria (Alio) are just about managing, with Amina making money by selling baskets she has fashioned out of car tyre cables by the highway. Then Maria (Alio) announces that she is pregnant and wants an abortion, which is forbidden in their community and subject to serious punishment. Amina, whose husband abandoned her when she was carrying Maria, calls on the Lingui (the sacred family bonds) and the help of her fellow women to resolve the situation, under the ever-watchful devout community. Beautifully shot in vibrant warm colours, but never downplaying the harrowing nature of the subject material, this is a rousing and briskly-paced depiction of feminist solidarity and pragmatism that economically sketches quotidian life in N’Djamena’s surrounding districts, and it boasts a luminous performance from Souleymane as the resourceful and determined Amina.