Monday, January 9, 2012

Ties That Bind. . .Leila Djansi's Movie

This is Africa. We do not adopt children. A woman must make her own else she will not be woman enough. Her husband will be ridiculed and he may be pressured to have children with another woman. The childless woman will be considered a witch. Childlessness could be a barren woman, or a woman whose children keep dying for one reason or the other. She is a doctor, and has had two miscarriages for a reason only known to her and a friend. She lets her partner suffer too because they have a situation none of them can help. Because of this condition, and society, she wanted to stop marriage despite the heart throbbing love she feels for her man. She knew the pressure of constantly losing her children could swallow her.

There is this American woman living in Ghana. She came here to heal. She had a bad childhood and grew up to become a spiteful mother to her own child despite not ever wanting to be so. She could care less about her own crying baby. Her own childhood was tormenting her and she had no control. She did something back in the States which she now regrets. She has to however live with it and yet find courage to face her demons. She has to go back to the States and face her twelve year old “nightmare.” Through her two other friends, she finds courage, embraces herself and decides to go back.

Then there is a woman, who has long been suffering from a health condition which neither she nor her husband knew how bad it is. She does get pregnant but for some reason, the society still considers her barren. Coincidentally, the piece of land she inherited from her parents is as barren as her womb. Her mother in law gave her no peace, called her a witch at any opportunity and made her feel bad. But she had a husband who loved her. A man who chose her over his mother and stood up to put his mother out of his home so his wife will have peace.

These are the stories of the three main women in Leila Djansi’s new movie, Ties That Bind. The premiere was held at the National Theater on the 30th of December and the turnout was very impressive. As the movie film rolled, and judging from the audience response, it was clear that indeed people were enjoying the movie. Women, childbirth, African customs and tradition, beliefs and love are the themes that intertwined beautifully to tell this story.

The set for the movie was very much like we will see in most of our villages and smaller towns and even in parts of the bigger towns. The language was comical and engaged a brilliant mix of some local languages with English. The subtitles were definite and without flamboyance. A lot of emotions came to play as the movie rolled with the most emotional part being when one of the characters run so fast that her friend had to struggle to keep up. Where was she going? I heard people ask. The next scene and her language got the entire auditorium to be quite, very quiet. As her friend complained about her sorrows, she took her to the barren land that carried the secret of her scorn and her bitterness.

Ghanaian, Ama K Abebrese, Nigerian, Omotola Jolade Ekeinde and American Kimberly Eliseare the three main leads in the movie. With captivating acting skills and beautiful directing by Leila Djansi, they played their roles and told the story of how some, and infact most women suffer from child-related issues. Hw ignorant some of our cultural practices are and how we even mistreat the sick and women in labor by taking them to churches, The Holy Fire Church, in this instance, while we downplay the effectiveness of orthodox medicine.

Leila, who triples as the writer and producer of this movie also made use of a beautiful array of old Ghanaian actors. Indeed one does not need recurrent scenes to make an impact in a movie. Grace Nortey’s one scene and barely two line language accompanied with her facial and bodily expressions were too effective to be ignored. Kofi Middleton-Mends and Kofi Adjololo also had cameo roles. John Dumelo, David Dontoh and musician Paulina Oduro had recurrent roles. Rapper Okyeame Quame also had a cameo role as a comedian.

Ties That Bind is what I classify as a fiction but too real to be so. Such situations are still happening and am grateful that this director chose to tell our story as is happening without flowery and poetic language and over glamorous costumes, which by the way hardly exist now, even in our palaces.

Leila Afua Djansi, kudos. Indeed, am bound by your Ties That Bind!

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