Mubi, the London-based streamer and theatrical distributor, has acquired North America, U.K. and more territories on Mahamat-Saleh Haroun’s “Lingui, The Sacred Bonds,” a highlight of the Cannes Film Festival competition.
The powerful Chadian abortion drama has received unanimous critical praise and is being talked about as a potential Palme d’Or winner at the midpoint of the festival. On top of the U.S. and the U.K., Mubi has acquired the film for Ireland, Latin America and Turkey.
Penned by Haroun, “Lingui, The Sacred Bonds” is set on the outskirts of N’djamena in Chad, where Amina lives with her 15-year-old daughter Maria. Her fragile world collapses when she discovers that her daughter is pregnant and does not want the pregnancy, in a country where abortion is not only condemned by religion, but also by law.
The film explores a bond between a mother and her daughter, and to a greater extent the role of female solidarity in patriarchal societies. Achouackh Abakar Souleymane (“Grisgris”) and newcomer Rihane Khalil Alio star in leading roles.
Haroun said in an interview that “Lingui” is a word that “implies solidarity, mutual aid and keeping each other afloat.”
“This word epitomizes a society’s resilience when faced with terrible trials and ordeals,” said the veteran helmer.
“Lingui, The Sacred Bonds” was produced by Florence Stern from French production company Pili Films, in association with Beluga Tree and Made in Germany Filmproduktion. Ad Vitam will distribute the film in France.
Variety’s critics said the film marked a “return to form” for director Mahamat-Saleh Haroun. “This taut, ravishingly shot film spurns the patriarchy in increasingly unexpected ways.”
The movie was applauded for its visual style and portrayal of the “vibrant, ochre-dusted streets of Chad’s capital N’Djamena.” The drama was lensed by Mathieu Giombini with an original score by well-known musician Wasis Diop (Hyenas, A Season in France).
Sales agent Films Boutique’s Cannes roster also includes Ildiko Enyedi’s competition title “The Story Of My Wife,” starring Léa Seydoux, Gijs Naber and Louis Garrel.
Haroun previously won Cannes’ Jury Prize with “A Screaming Man” in 2011, and also had “Grigris” play in competition in 2013.
Earlier in the festival, Mubi picked up rights for North America, U.K. and more territories on Sebastian Meise’s “Great Freedom,” which is playing in Un Certain Regard. Mubi’s Cannes titles also include Andrea Arnold’s “Cow,” Mia Hansen-Løve’s “Bergman Island,” Valdimar Jóhannsson’s “Lamb,” Julia Ducournau’s “Titane,” Leos Carax’s Cannes opening film “Annette,” Paul Verhoeven’s “Benedetta” and Sebastien Meise’s “Great Freedom.”
Manori Ravindran contributed to this report.