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Preview: ‘Tough Bond’ (Unsettling Doc On Homeless Kenyan Children Finding Comfort In Sniffing Glue)

Preview: 'Tough Bond' (Unsettling Doc On Homeless Kenyan Children Finding Comfort In Sniffing Glue)

My usual immediate reaction to films like this that tell stories about Africans in Africa, isn’t exactly to embrace them; I tend to shy away from any new films (especially those made by non-Africans) that appear to focus on the usual stories (especially documentaries) about the continent, as in, war, poverty, famine, etc – all fitting under the “problems of Africa” umbrella.

I’ve seen a lot, and enough of those in my lifetime, and could use some balance. There is so much more to “Africa” to explore on film, but the fascination seems to remain with on what is maybe an easier sell – an image of Africa that the rest of the world seems to believe or accept as the only one.

Not to disparage the filmmakers. This is obviously a subject matter that they are interesting in and passionate about, and it’s a topic that’s very real and worthy of coverage. So I can’t say that this is a film that shouldn’t have been made. I’m just sharing my honest reactions, and calling for some balance, so that the next American or European filmmaker (as is often the case) who’s inspired to tell a story about “Africa” will maybe consider taken the road less traveled. 

All that said, I’m still definitely curious to see the film in full; this glue-sniffing *phenomenon* by homeless Kenyan kids isn’t something that I’m very familiar with (we’ve certainly heard of similar occurrences here in the USA), so I’m sure there’s an education in it for me.

Titled Tough Bond, from directors Austin Peck and Anneliese Vandenberg, it looks like an unsettling feature documentary (at least, based on the contents of the trailer below). It’s described as follows:

Intimate documentary images and a radically honest look at Kenyan society. When cultural and family ties no longer exist, homeless children find comfort in sniffing glue. Tough Bond is a feature length documentary film about our irrepressible need as humans for family- no matter how tough it may be. We follow 4 kids who find family and a new identity as “Survivors”, living together on the streets of Kenya, huffing glue to endure the hell of street life.

It’s making its world premiere at the 2013 Berlin International Film Festival in February, and continues to travel. So we’ll keep tabs on it, and update you along the way.

Watch the preview trailer for Tough Bond:

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