As a married but childless woman, Aicha finds herself in a situation that is totally “out of the ordinary” in her country, Niger, where women are expected to have children. But just like everywhere else in the world today, Niger also experiences problems with infertility.
Based on her personal story, Aicha Macki explores the private suffering of women in her situation with great sensitivity. Speaking openly as a childless woman among mothers, she breaks a taboo in Nigerien society
Interview with Director Aicha Macky
Congratulations! Why did you make your film?
I made this film to give voice to all women suspected of being infertile. Especially those from Niger because the country does not allow them to discuss a subject as taboo as infertility, because it indirectly touches on the issue of sexuality. I did it because it is almost a duty for me. I am a sociologist by training and a filmmaker.
Directing gives me the chance to portray the life stories of people we live with, but we do not know their personal story or how they live with it. I seized the opportunity to talk about myself because I thought it could be use as a therapy and allow others to talk about themselves too, so that a change in mentality begins.
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
You have to watch the movie simply because it speaks of the human. It speaks of the existential question of giving life. It is a universal theme that affects more than one person in the whole world: the question of infertility.
How do personal and universal themes work in your film?.
First of all, they are life stories and personal trajectories. That of my mother, who gave birth to 5 children and died during her sixth childbirth. Or that of mine, which is an exception in Niger where the birth rate is up to : 7.8 children on average per woman.
It is also the story of so many women in Niger. Especially about the issue of maternal mortality. It is also the reality of many other countries around the world. This is reflected in RFI's priority health program, where women and couples call from around the world to testify about what they are experiencing.
How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development?
The project initially focused on maternal mortality. I was a student in Saint-Louis College when I learned a friend of mine died giving birth. Since I had to make a film to graduate, I had begun to write the story of this friend and my mother, all dead during childbirth.
When I returned to Niger, the desire to be a mother began to be so intense and the question arose acutely around me. I started to go to health centers to talk about my desire to be a mother. I noticed that women who are trying to have a child, crave talking about motherhood and about the problems they face in their homes. Being aware of the therapeutic role of liberated speech, I have several times lent my ear to some women I met. This is where I quickly realized that the film could be made in parallel between the story of my mother who died in childbirth and my story, a story of a woman who is not a mother and who died socially.
I decided to film my own story through which I probed the story of other women suspected of being infertile. During the shooting, we had to think about how to replace the characters who were part of the project since the beginning, but in the end refused to be filmed when the shooting started.
We had to think about how to review the project so that the film could be made. This is the magic of directing a movie: the ability to adapt to the reality that often eludes us. My team played a key role. We were all united to carry out the project. It was made possible by a perfect understanding. A team spirit.
What type of feedback have you received so far?.
I made the observation that all Africans have the same perception of woman: a mother, a wife. Everywhere the film has been screened, testimonies are almost the same: infertility is a woman's business. Any man capable of having an erection cannot fail to get a woman pregnant.
It also made it clear that the issue of infertility is far from being only an African affair. Even in Europe the pressure exists, but it is less important than in Africa where in some countries women who are not mothers are called witches and are often victims of lynching or are burned alive in public places, as has testified a Ghanaian woman.
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
It was rather impressive feedback. To see that this personal story of my mother - which at the beginning some thought would touch no one except me - is now moving more than one person and it left me puzzled. When at the end of a screening, a European woman from another country holds me in her arms and tells me that I made a film useful for humanity, or that I made the film for her, because she can relate to my own experience, it is the only moment that makes me weep with tears.
I feel something crossed me right into my being. I am glad that I have been useful to something, even though I have not given a child to my husband, to my society, because that is what it is all about. I regained my self-confidence.
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?
The main goal of every piece of work is to create debate and be seen throughout the world Having an article published is always promotion for the film, its team and for me.
Hopefully, it will grow the audience and catch the attention of those who have not seen the film yet, and make them look forward to see it or come to meet me. It will inevitably open new doors for the film and for my future projects.
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?
We need wveryone to communicate about the film, especially journalists and film festival programmers, since the film is co-produced between Niger and France. The production company Les films du Balibari is based in Nantes, in France, and Maggia Images is based in Niamey, in Niger. The film is distributed by Point du Jour International in Paris.
What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?
The impact of being seen by a large number of people. To bring people who have the "chance" to have children naturally without resorting to medical assistance to know that the issue of giving birth cannot be taken for granted. To make them understand that a child is precious and requires full attention. Especially in the case of my country where people give birth to children and leave their education to the streets.
What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?
What does a child represent for you? How can you imagine yourself without a child?
Would you like to add anything else?
I'm currently working on a film temporarily entitled “Migraine”. It is a film about gangs in my native region. I will try to understand the phenomenon of juvenile delinquency with, as a starting point, the riots that took place on January 16, 2015 after the president of Niger took part in the walk for compassion alongside the French president following the Attack on the siege of “Charlie hebdo”. Ten people lost their lives, churches were burnt ...
Interview: May 2017
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Original version: French
Nationality: Niger, France