By Nelie Diverlus
Lingui, the Sacred Bonds teaches us that the world is a lot more interconnected than we believe. Experiences and oppressions that many of us face here are also echoed in many different parts of the world – especially in terms of the questionable conflict of bodily autonomy. This story opens our hearts and pours out empathy towards all those facing fears of their agency torn from them.
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This film set in Chad, centering around two female main characters: Amina, a single mother, and Maria, her fifteen-year-old child – who is now pregnant. While abortion is their desired method of evading this predicament, they must grapple with the stigma surrounding it; both by the nation in which they reside, and their religion (they are both Muslim, and Islamic laws discourage abortion, with certain exceptions.) Through fear, strength, and community, Lingui, the Sacred Bonds blares out the ever so needed call to reclaim autonomy over one's own body.
Director Mahamet-Saleh Haroun masterfully conveys a grim theme in a rather visually captivating manner. As mentioned before the beginning of the film, his inspiration drew from various stories of child abandonment post-birth, in addition to seeing the constant imposition of women’s body in today’s society, inspiring him to create a film that protects and amplifies the rights of bodily autonomy. There is an imminent need for this story today – lawmakers implementing laws to protect the rights of unborn children, rather than the parents themselves, in order to uphold the patriarchal norm of maintaining the rights of cis-gendered men. Haroun effectively centres the rights of the young pregnant girl in this story, and it truly is captivating to see his activism shown through his work.
“Haroun effectively centres the rights of the young pregnant girl in this story, and it truly is captivating to see his activism shown through his work.”
The film is presented with astonishing visuals – the dusty colouring of the film sets us in the rural region of Chad, as well as boosting the melanin of the subjects. The nighttime also brought blue hues that reflected on each character’s skin magnificently. There was clearly great attention to detail whilst colouring this film, as every aspect of the story is illuminated vibrantly. The film is comprised almost entirely of wide and long shots; these shots effectively support in providing a full scope of the surroundings; we no longer feel like an outsider looking in, but rather additional pieces to the story itself.
Moreover, the soundscape is outstanding. In juxtaposition of the immaculate visuals, we are further launched into the agricultural setting, simply by hearing sounds of goats and cattle to set the scene. The nighttime settings are christened with background sounds of crickets, amongst other various insects that come alive at dusk.
In sum, Lingui and the Sacred Bonds elegantly crafts the right to choose in a way that we can all hear. Director Mahamet-Saleh Haroun brilliantly validates the rights of everyone hoping to keep control of their bodies. This film serves as a tool of resistance, and for that, we are thankful.
Editor’s Note: Lingui, the Sacred Bonds screened at the Toronto International Film Festival ’21, as part of the Special Presentations programme