Saudi Arabian women, not only colluding in their own suppression, but brainwashing the next generation into the ways of an extreme patriarchal society, became a major talking point stemming from Haifaa Al- Mansour’s Venice hit, ‘Wadjda’.
Chika Anadu now takes up a similar theme in her debut feature, ‘B For Boy’, but pushes it to a new level with women in contemporary Nigeria.
Both films serve as a reminder of the surrounding circumstances that can sometimes complicate human rights issues; the victims become perpetrators – in this case, gender police – in a vicious cycle that is very difficult to break or mitigate. Nor do they easily lend themselves to outside intervention even though the consequences are often appalling.
Anadu participated in Cannes’s Cinefondation Residency programme and developed the script for ‘B for Boy’, which received a world premiere at this year’s London Film Festival. Tackling a serious social issue with insight and maturity, this engaging feature deserves a wider distribution beyond the festival circuit.
Lying at its heart, a 39 year old wife, Amaka, is under serious pressure to bear a son before its too late. She is pregnant but a refusal to determine the baby’s sex has aroused the suspicion of her tenacious mother-in-law, who has a potential second wife at hand in case Amaka fails to deliver. Then, disaster strikes, a miscarriage irretrievably damages her womb, rendering future child birth impossible and condemning her to a potential life on the sidelines unless she can conceal her change of circumstances.
The drama unfolds around groups of binary opposites; the new middle class, a modern Christianity and women’s rights v traditional tribal communities, ritualistic religious beliefs and a primitive gender construct. But it never feels like a contrived plotting device, Anadu in some way imposing a convenient form of Structuralism onto the action. These are tensions that derive from a society that she seemingly depicts without contrivance, and come to a head in a pivotal scene where a rebel rousing priest fires up local village women condemning Amaka as a witch.
Newcomer, Uche Nwadili, lends Amaka a restrained dignity of the kind that masks an inner emotional turmoil, which pushes against the surface and only occasionally breaks through. It’s an affecting performance that falls into that category peculiar to talented unknowns – now common place in world cinema – and often steels the film.
Nonso plays her husband, who, caught in a tug of war, sits on the fence. Anadu was fiercely critical of this character during the post screening Q&A, reproaching his indecision as a weakness. But, as an outsider looking on, it was difficult not to have sympathy for his predicament and, in the end, his general withholding of support seemed a massive step in its own right.
A truly shocking climax turns everything on its head. A desperate Amaka gets involved in an illegal adoption, one that inflicts a despicable act of cruelty against another mother and compounds the society’s patriarchal assumptions. It’s a well judged sequence that could have gone horribly wrong and makes a political point very clearly.ordering cialis online legal cialis 20mg online kaufen generic cialis england can i order cialis online