By Sarata Jabbi
Set in The Gambia, this movie explores two main themes, one particular the other general/broad. With regard to the particular, the movie featuring an exclusive Gambian cast centres on a cultural practice – female circumcision (more dramatically referred to as Female Genital Cutting (FGC) or Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)) – and the far-reaching harmful effects it has on feminine sexuality and reproductive health.
The movie, which was produced by a German-based Gambian film director, Prince Bubacarr Aminata Sankanu, also highlights the risks to the life of innocent girls as the tragic fate of one of the actresses shows.
The tension between age-old cultural and traditional practices and the dynamics of liberal democratic governance systems and institutions, to which protection of personal freedoms are integral is laid bare. Yet state institutions that are charged with the responsibility of enforcing the laws meant to safeguard those rights, such as the police, are shown to be beset by obstacles that ultimately impact people’s welfare. People’s desire to adhere to traditional practices, the movie shows, is on a collision course with growing awareness of the harmful effects of FGM. But the trials and tribulations encountered by advocates of girls’ and women’s rights in a predominantly hostile environment evokes feelings of outrage in all progressive-minded people, as the exploits of the young lawyer cum activist in the movie and the brilliant undergraduate young woman aspiring to become a doctor demonstrate.
The broader theme concerns gender inequality in Gambian society in particular, where the girl-child’s prospects for personal advancement are to all intents and purposes hampered by what might in this day and age be termed backward and anachronistic attitude to gender. Yet as the presence of some girls at the only university in the country and the willingness of the village head to allow his only child to pursue higher education (or is it because he has no male child?) appears to show, there are exceptions to the rule.
The movie – which also features episodes of unrequited love, pent-up emotions of love, jealousy and conspiracy against the unsuspecting – is a welcome addition to the fledgling but gradually growing Gambian film industry.
BLEEDING BLADE was premiered on 30 September 2017 at the headquarters of GAMCOTRAP, the leading Gambian civil society organization advocating an end to gender-based violence. The premier was attended by Dr. Isatou Touray, former Executive Director of GAMCOPTRAP and current Gambian Minister of Trade, Industry, Regional Integration and Employment, Madam Bintou Gassama, Deputy Permanent Secretary who represented the Vice President and Minister of Women’s Affairs, Fatoumatta Jallow-Tambajang, Madam Patricia Alsup, the USA Ambassador to The Gambia, The Chancellor of the Nigerian High Commission to The Gambia and a host of others. The film is currently on global festival and community screening tours.