Cécile is travelling in northern Benin. She happens to cross the path of a young African mother who abandons a baby in her arms... Cécile is going to adopt this rejected child. She accepts this adoption the way one would accept an "accidental" pregnancy. She cannot resist. She decides to keep him and raise him alone. She names the baby Lancelot. The story of this adoption is going to intertwine with Cécile's personal history with men and with her own mother. It is also going to open her up to another world, in the strongest sense of the term. In seeking to contact Lancelot's biological parents seven years after he was abandoned, Cécile discovers the incredible secret story of this child that has become hers. Written by
Channel 437 on DStv (South Africa) is the French channel TV5 aimed at French speaking African countries during the day with soaps and information programmes, In the evening and during the night it broadcasts programmes from France itself. Not exclusively so, but in general. It also offers news and weather forecasts.
Late evening Tuesday and Thursday and sometimes also Wednesday and then more or less at 02:00 Sunday mornings the channel offers full-length feature films, both classic and modern with English subtitles. I PVR these so I can watch them at leisure Last Wednesday the channel offered Le secret de l'infant-fourmi (The secret of the ant-children). Based on current events and facts (and a real incident) it recounts Cecile visiting her lover Didier in Benin where he has been working for a couple of years. He lives in the Bariba region. She takes his car to go to a waterfall, gets lost and is almost accosted by a woman begging her (in what is to her unintelligible Bariba) to take her baby. The mother disappears into the bush.
Cecile decides to adopt the baby, calls him Lancelot and after some legal wrangling and opposition from Didier and severe warnings from the local people, she returns to France taking her son with her. Everyone believes that the baby is a sorcerer and evil, because he cut an upper tooth first. A sure sign of sorcery.
Long story short. When he is seven he develops serious psychological problems. Moreover he is the only black child in his class and he is derided. Cecile decides to take him back to Benin to find his parents. Not to hand him back, but for him to make peace with his heritage.
Only now does she learn with how much superstition babies that are born prematurely or have an upper tooth first or other 'abnormalities' are regarded. These children have to be 'repaired'. Cecile realises that repaired implies being killed. Murdered. The police and the political leaders are all involved. Lancelot's biological parents are traced but then he is kidnapped and they know he will be killed.
Only about ten minutes or so before the end of the film the horrific meaning and secret of the title - infant-fourmi (ant-children) - is revealed.... Absolutely horrific and it's still happening.
This is not a Hi-Def, glossy movie. It obviously didn't have a major budget. But it is hard-hitting and sincere and as realistic as a documentary. A low-profile film that deserves to be seen.
The European characters are played by actors, the rest of the cast are Benin people, but to protect the children no Bariba child was used. They're all from other regions.
The secret of the ant-children..... How much I learn, how little I know
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